by Brett Larner
Update: Kizaki has withdrawn.
The Nagoya Women's Marathon is one of the Japanese races taking steps to adapt to the mass-participation boom, changing from an elite-only format but still keeping its identity by incorporating a mass field that makes it the largest women-only marathon in the world. At the front end, like last week's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon for the men Nagoya is the last chance for Japanese women to qualify for the 2015 Beijing World Championships marathon team. While Japanese men's marathoning has grown over the last five years, women's marathoning has been hit by an absence of new top level-names, today's top women running 2:23-2:25 where they would have been 4 minutes faster 10-15 years ago.
But Nagoya has done a great job of pulling together most of the best current women and future hopefuls for some kind of return to past success. In the house are the fastest Japanese woman of 2013-14, Asian Games silver medalist Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), 2:25 women Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto), collegiate record holder Sairi Maeda (Team Daihatsu) and under-20 record holder Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) both running their second marathons after successful debuts, debuting half marathon stars Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya), Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido) and Shiho Takechi (Team Yamada Denki) and more.
And they've also got together an international field featuring at least one name, Asian Games gold medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain), that should provide some extra motivation, Kirwa having run most of the Asian Games marathon side by side with Kizaki before getting away late in the race. The other six international women, Mariya Konovalova (Russia), Aheza Kiros (Ethiopia), Anna Incerti (Italy), Olena Burkovska (Ukraine), Woynishet Girma (Ethiopia) and Adriana Da Silva (Brazil) have PBs evenly interspersed from 2:22:46 to 2:29:17, promising competition for the Japanese field no matter how the race goes.
Kirwa and Kizaki look like the clear favorites, and ideally the race will play out as a rematch between them with Maeda and Iwade in the mix, but whether even that would be enough to bring the kinds of times that used to be the norm remains to be seen. With the bar for the World Championships team far lower than the Federation's sub-2:22:30 standard so far, 2:26:39 by Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) in Osaka, 2:26:57 by Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) in Yokohama and 2:30:26 by Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) in Hokkaido, it wouldn't take much to feel like a step back in the right direction.
The Nagoya Women's Marathon will be broadcast live nationwide on Sunday, March 8 starting at 9:00 a.m. Follow @JRNLive for live raceday coverage.
Nagoya Women's Marathon
Nagoya, Aichi, 3/8/15
click here for complete field listing
Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:21:41 (Amsterdam 2012)
Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:22:46 (Chicago 2013)
Ryoko Kizaki (Japan/Daihatsu) - 2:23:34 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
Aheza Kiros (Ethiopia) - 2:24:30 (Dubai 2013)
Mai Ito (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:25:26 (Nagoya Women's 2012)
Eri Hayakawa (Japan/Toto) - 2:25:31 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Anna Incerti (Italy) - 2:25:32 (Berlin 2011)
Sairi Maeda (Japan/Daihatsu) - 2:26:46 (Osaka Women's 2014)
Olena Burkovska (Ukraine) - 2:27:07 (Hannover 2013)
Reia Iwade (Japan/Noritz) - 2:27:21 (Yokohama Women's 2014)
Woynishet Girma (Ethiopia) - 2:27:51 (Amsterdam 2010)
Misato Horie (Japan/Noritz) - 2:27:57 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Adriana Da Silva (Brazil) - 2:29:17 (Tokyo 2012)
Yuka Hakoyama (Japan/Wacoal) - 2:30:48 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Asami Furuse (Japan/Kyocera) - 2:30:57 (Nagoya Women's 2013)
Yuka Yano (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:31:02 (Kitakyushu 2014)
Manami Kamitanida (Japan/Hitachi) - 2:31:34 (Tokyo 2014)
Yuko Mizuguchi (Japan/Denso) - 2:31:39 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Rei Ohara (Japan/Tenmaya) - 1:09:45 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Risa Takenaka (Japan/Shiseido) - 1:10:10 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Shiho Takechi (Japan/Yamada Denki) - 1:11:33 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
(c) 2015 Brett Larner
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