Skip to main content

Adachi Against Kawauchi, 50% of XC Season, Another Ekiden and More - Weekend Preview

by Brett Larner

February is one of those months with more events crammed in than it's possible to cover.  This weekend features at least three good quality marathons, a 10-miler, another late-season ekiden, and half of the elite Japanese cross country season.

That XC happens east of Tokyo in Chiba at the Chiba International XC Meet, along with the Feb. 21 Fukuoka International XC Meet one of the two races that decide the Japanese team for next month's World XC Championships in China.  Marugame Half Marathon remnants Samuel Tsegaye (Eritrea) and Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) make up the major share of the international component in the senior men's 12 km where they face the likes of 2015 Hakone Ekiden course record setter Aoyama Gakuin University's Kazuma Kubota, Daito Bunka University wonder twins Hiroshi and Takashi Ichida and many more.  The Japanese junior teams usually represent well at worlds, and most of the country's best up-and-coming talent will be there.

Others will be at the Chugoku Women's Ekiden, which this year changes homes and names slightly to the Chugoku Women's Sera Ekiden in Sera, Hiroshima, home of 2014 National High School Ekiden champion Sera H.S.  Further west, the Karatsu Road Race hosts sub-2:10 marathoner Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), top track runners Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota) and Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Kenyan Edward Waweru (Team NTN) in its 10-miler, with a good selection of upper-level Japanese women including Misato Horie (Team Noritz) and Yuka Takashima (Team Denso) in its 10 km division.

Another sub-2:10 marathoner from the Asahi Kasei crew, Tomoya Adachi, lines up on home ground at the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon where his main competition is 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't).  Kawauchi, with a PB of 2:08:14, is recovered from his ankle sprain in late December but down in fitness during his recovery.  Adachi, who ran a 2:09:59 best in Fukuoka in December, should be a more than worthy competitor for him.  Good lower-tier races are also on the calendar at the Ehime Marathon and the Kitakyushu Marathon, the latter of which saw quality times in its first edition last year.

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…