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Past Winners Worku and Ndungu Face Maeda, Ugachi, Bat-Ochir, Meucci and More at Lake Biwa

by Brett Larner

The Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, universally called Biwako for short in Japan, celebrates its 70th running this year, with a place at the Beijing World Championships up for any Japanese man who decides to run sub-2:06:30.  For its anniversary year race Biwako brings back defending champion Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) and 2012 winner Samuel Ndungu (Kenya) to face the likes of 2:06 man Eric Ndiema (Kenya), Mongolian national record holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Team NTN), 2:08:55 runner Jose Antonio Uribe (Mexico), 2014 European champion Daniele Meucci (Italy) and many more from around the world in one of the most international fields in Biwako history.

On the domestic front, with a 2:08:00 best Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), a rare Japanese athlete to have been at the top of the Japanese scene all the way from high school through a solid marathon career, goes in ranked #1 despite a weak 2014, twins Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) and Yuko Matsumiya (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) long past their best and last year's top Japanese man Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) having a best of only 2:09:47.  But Sasaki does come to Biwako off a PB win at last week's Karatsu 10-miler and saying that he is ready for 2:08, so if Maeda is off his strong 2013 form Sasaki will be there to knock him over.

With the Tokyo Marathon a week earlier having pulled in the strongest overall field in the spring marathon season including most of Japan's current sub-2:10 men Biwako's main body of runners lies at the 2:10-2:12 level.  The most exciting of these is Komazawa University graduate Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Team Konica Minolta), all-time Japanese #6 for 10000 m and half-marathon with a 2:13 debut at last year's Dubai Marathon followed by a 2:12 in Sydney in September and a 2:10:50 in Fukuoka in December.  That's a lot of marathoning for a first year, but with steady progression each time and his 1:00:58 half suggesting more to come Ugachi will have most of the fans' eyes on him.

For the last few years Biwako has seen top collegiate runners making their debuts early, but with Yuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) opting to do that at Tokyo this year the list of top-level first-timers is headed by Toshihiko Seko and Tomoaki Kunichika-coached sub-62 half marathon Kenta Murotsuka (DeNA RC).  Ugachi's training partner Takuya Noguchi (Team Konica Minolta) is also one of the better novices, debuting off a 1:02:50 half at last year's Marugame Half Marathon.

The Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon will be broadcast live nationwide and commercial-free on NHK on March 1.  Follow @JRNLive for live coverage throughout the race.

70th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Otsu, Shiga, 3/1/15
click here for complete field listing

Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) - 2:05:25 (Berlin 2010)
Eric Ndiema (Kenya) - 2:06:07 (Amsterdam 2011)
Samuel Ndungu (Kenya) - 2:07:04 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:08:00 (Tokyo 2013)
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/NTN) - 2:08:50 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Jose Antonio Uribe (Mexico) - 2:08:55 (Houston 2014)
Takayuki Matsumiya (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:09:14 (Tokyo 2013)
Yuko Matsumiya (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:09:18 (Lake Biwa 2005)
Jackson Kiprop (Uganda) - 2:09:32 (Mumbai 2013)
Fikadu Girma (Ethiopia) - 2:09:34 (Dusseldorf 2014)
Satoru Sasaki (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:47 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Bunta Kuroki (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:10:08 (Fukuoka Int'l 2012)
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:10:50 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Yukihiro Kitaoka (Japan/NTN) - 2:10:51 (Lake Biwa 2010)
Keita Akiba (Japan/Komori Corp.) - 2:10:53 (Beppu-Oita 2009)
Soji Ikeda (Japan/Yakult) - 2:10:59 (Tokyo 2013)
Daniele Meucci (Italy) - 2:11:08 (European Championships 2014)
Takaaki Koda (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:08 (Tokyo 2011)
Stepan Kiselev (Russia) - 2:11:28 (Zurich 2014)
Noritaka Fujiyama (Japan/Sumitomo Denko) - 2:11:34 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Yoshiki Otsuka (Japan/Aichi Seiko) - 2:11:40 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Rui Yonezawa (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:11:59 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Noriaki Takahashi (Japan/DeNA) - 2:12:00 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (Nobeoka 2014)
Kenji Higashino (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:13 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Tatsunari Hirayama (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:12:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Wirimai Juwawo (Zimbabwe) - 2:12:38 (Danzhou 2010)
Kazuaki Shimizu (Japan/Yakult) - 2:12:49 (Nobeoka 2013)
Agato Yashin Hassan (Ethiopia/Chuo Hatsujo) - 2:13:07 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Johana Maina (Kenya/Fujitsu) - 2:13:46 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)

Kenta Murotsuka (Japan/DeNA) - 1:01:58 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Takumi Kiyotani (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:02:15 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Tomohiro Shiiya (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:15 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Masatoshi Kikuchi (Japan/Fujitsu) - 1:02:28 (Marugame Half 2012)
Shota Inoue (Japan/Toyota) - 1:02:49 (Marugame Half 2015)
Takuya Noguchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:02:50 (Marugame Half 2014)

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Anonymous said…
WOW! can't wait to see Daniele Meucci doing his best to improve his PB. Sure he can do it!!!
Nate Jenkins said…
^^^ have to agree with that. Given his championship performances Daniele has to be the best 2:11 marathoner in the world.

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