Skip to main content

Sakai and Yano Headline Aug. 31 Hokkaido Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

For years the worldwide fall elite marathon season has gotten underway with Sapporo's Hokkaido Marathon on the last Sunday of August.  Two years organizers did away with their elite fields, leaving top amateurs Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Yuri Yoshizumi (Osaka Nagai AC) to win in two of the slowest winning times in event history.  Last year the elite fields returned with a small international contingent that proved mostly superfluous.  With the release of this year's elite fields today it's clear that organizers have trimmed the fat to focus on a good domestic field that on paper any other country outside Africa would have a tough time matching.

Leading the men's field is the 4th-fastest Japanese man of the year, Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko), who ran 2:09:10 in Tokyo in February.  Named to the federation's new marathon National Team program on the strength of that performance, with Hokkaido's always-hot conditions Sakai will be the first guinea pig in the program to be subjected to the program's objective of developing marathoners who can excel in heat for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Sakai is the class of the field by a considerable margin, but his competition includes 2010 Asian Games silver medalist Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN), multiple-2:11 man Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and the up-and-coming Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) and Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu).  Unsuccessful in the marathon so far but hoping for more are Hakone Ekiden Sixth Stage record holder Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu) and one of Japan's all-time best high school runners Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin).  Of special note among the first-timers is Hiroyuki Yamamoto, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden course record holder Toyo University now running for two-time corporate national champion team Konica Minolta.

The top end of the women's field is packed with former corporate-league athletes pursuing different directions.  Yuri Kano (Kyoto T&F Assoc.) and Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) were longtime teammates who balanced each other well.  On the dark side, Kano has had a complicated career trajectory that saw her leave the Shiseido corporate team with Shimahara, head coach Manabu Kawagoe and others to form the Second Wind club team, then leaving Second Wind to return to Shiseido, then finally quitting Shiseido this spring to run as an independent.  Representing the light, Hokkaido course record holder took time off a few years ago to have a child, and since returning has been running in the mid-2:40s.  Kumi Ogura (Kochi T&F Assoc.) is another former pro now running as an independent.  Former pro skiier and mountain runner Azusa Nojiri quit the Daiichi Seimei corporate team to run with private sponsor Hiratsuka Lease, mostly without success so far with a 2014 best of only 2:33:39.

All of which leaves Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu), winner of this year's inaugural Kitakyushu Marathon in 2:31:02, as the favorite.  Manami Kamitanida (Team Hitachi), 2:31:34 in Tokyo this year, should bring a solid challenge along with debuting Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), a training partner of Daegu World Championships marathoner Mai Ito.

2014 Hokkaido Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/31/14
click here for complete elite field listing

Men
Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko) - 2:09:10 (2014 Tokyo Marathon)
Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - 2:10:51 (2010 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:11:15 (2013 Tokyo Marathon)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:13:24 (2014 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business) - 2:13:38 (2013 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:13:41 (2014 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Monteroza) - 2:14:48 (2012 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon)
Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:15:15 (2010 Tokyo Marathon)
Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru) - 2:15:38 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Takuya Suzuki (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 2:15:40 (2014 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon)
Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:16:15 (2014 Biwako Mainichi Marathon)
Kenta Chiba (Team Fujitsu) - 2:18:07 (2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon)
Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:27:15 (2010 Tokyo Marathon)
Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Team Konica Minolta) - debut - 1:32:20 (2013 Ome 30 km)
Shun Suzuki (Nanyo City Hall) - debut - 1:34:26 (2013 Kumanichi 30 km)
Yuma Morii (Team SGH Group Sagawa) - debut - 1:03:57 (2014 Marugame Half)

Women
Yuri Kano (Kyoto T&F Assoc.) - 2:24:27 (2008 Tokyo Int'l Women's Marathon)
Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) - 2:24:57 (2012 Osaka Int'l Women's Marathon)
Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:25:10 (2009 Hokkaido Marathon)
Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:31:02 (2014 Kitakyushu Marathon)
Manami Kamitanida (Team Hitachi) - 2:31:34 (2014 Tokyo Marathon)
Kumi Ogura (Kochi T&F Assoc.) - 2:34:01 (2013 Nagoya Women's Marathon)
Sayuri Baba (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 2:37:38 (2012 Nagano Marathon)
Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - debut - 1:11:41 (2010 Sanyo Women's Half)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …