Skip to main content

Ageo City Half Marathon Leads Weekend Action - Preview

by Brett Larner

Rainy weather lies ahead for a busy weekend of racing across the country.  Track is a part of the calender from April through December, and this weekend features several large time trial meets including the Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials Meet and, closer to Tokyo, the Nittai University Time Trials Meet.  Men's 5000 m is the focus at Nittai with 37 separate heats in one day, the fastest heat led by 12 Japan-based Africans including Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC), Ronald Kwemoi (Team Komori Corp.) and Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta).

The main action this weekend, however, happens on the roads, and there's no question that the Ageo City Half Marathon is the main event.  Ageo, the race that university coaches use to thin their rosters ahead of deciding their lineups for January's Hakone Ekiden, is one of two Japanese half marathons vying for the title of world's greatest half, locked in a duel with March's National University Half Marathon to produce the deepest fields ever seen.  27 university men broke 1:03 at this year's Nationals, and 19 of them are on the entry list for Ageo along with another 12 who have broken 1:03 elsewhere, 20 more with sub-29 10000 m bests, and at least one sub 1:03 man, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) in the general division.  Ageo will be hard-pressed to top the world record 265 runners sub-1:06 set at Nationals this year, but with the added motivation of an invite to the 2016 New York City Half Marathon available to the top two Japanese collegiate finishers the front end could surpass the Nationals numbers.  JRN will be on-hand to cover the race live.

It's well into ekiden season, and in four central corporate league regions, Chubu, Hokuriku, Chugoku and Kansai, corporate men's teams will be competing to qualify for the January 1 New Year Ekiden national championships.  But overshadowing them are two large marathons.  With 17,213 finishers last year the Kobe Marathon is inside the top 15 largest marathons worldwide, and this year's fifth anniversary running is bound to be even bigger.  Defending men's champion Haron Malel (Kenya) returns to lead the men's field, with last year's 4th-placer Mildred Kiminiy (Uganda) topping the women's list.

More women will line up nearby Ageo at the first edition of the Saitama International Marathon, the descendant of both the Yokohama International Women's Marathon and Tokyo International Women's Marathon.  A mass-participation race with an elite women's field up front, Saitama is the first domestic selection race for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic women's marathon team.  With one place on the team already gone to Beijing World Championships 7th-placer Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and two more selection races to come Japanese women have almost entirely skipped Saitama, not a single one who has broken 2:30 since 2012 on the entry list.  The promising Aki Odagiri (Team Tenmaya), 2:30:24 in a 5-minute PB in Nagoya this spring, leads the home team followed by former national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), Japan's lone public EPO positive Kaori Yoshida (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and comeback cancer survivor Remi Nakazato (Team Nitori).

Recent 2:25 Africans Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia), Rebecca Kangogo Chesir (Kenya) and Meselech Melkamu (Ethiopia) lead the international entries, an indication of how fast the race will likely go.  The field also includes London Olympics marathon bronze medalist Tatyana Arkhipova (Russia), rejected from this year's New York City Marathon and represented by Andrey Baranov, the same agent who handled high-profile banned Russians Liliya Shobuknova, Mariya Konovalova and Tatyana Aryasova, and another athlete to have previously served a drug suspension, Rasa Drasdauskaite (Lithuania).  It's a troubling start that can't do much to establish Saitama's reputation given current events worldwide.

Look for coverage of these events and more over the next few days on JRN.

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Japan's London World Championships Marathon Squad Arrives Back Home

The six members of Japan's men's and women's marathon teams at the ongoing London World Championships returned to Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Aug. 9. Decked out in the official team suit, Japanese team captain and at 9th the top-placing Japanese marathoner in London Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) spoke to the media.

Having declared pre-race his intention to withdraw from consideration for future Japanese National Team positions, post-race Kawauchi showed no change in that intent. With regard to his future plans, his motivation as a competitor likewise remaining unchanged, Kawauchi indicated that he will run Decmeber's Fukuoka International Marathon,where his 3rd-place overall finish last year earned him his place in London. "In Fukuoka I want to break my PB and run 2:07," he said. "There are things I want to accomplish besides being on the National Team."

Kawauchi revealed that his next marathon will be September's Oslo Marathon, whe…

Silver and Bronze - Summary of Japanese Performances at 2017 London World Championships

Thanks to a last-minute rush Japan walked away from the London World Championships with a passable haul. The JAAF judges performance in terms of medals and top 8 finishes. Up to Saturday, only one Japanese athlete had met either, 18-year-old sprinter Abdul Hakim Sani Brown finishing 7th in the men's 200 m final as the first Japanese man to make a 200 m final at Worlds since 2003. Three other Japanese athletes had scored top 10 placings, Yuki Kawauchi and Kentaro Nakamoto in the men's marathon and Ayuko Suzuki in the women's 10000 m, but under the JAAF's criteria these were not viewed as success.


Saturday's men's 4x100 m final brought the first Japanese medal of the Championships, with Japan following up on its Rio Olympics silver with a bronze, its first-ever Worlds medal in the discipline. Sunday morning brought Japan's best-ever showing in the men's 50 km race walk, Rio bronze medalist Hirooki Arai moving up to silver, Kai Kobayashi taking bronze wit…

London World Championships - Day Nine Japanese Results

Following up on its silver medal at the Rio Olympics, the Japanese men's 4x100 m relay squad delivered the first Japanese medal of the London World Championships as it took bronze behind hosts Great Britain and U.S.A. Swapping in alternate Kenji Fujimitsu for ailing anchor Aska Cambridge in the final, the team featured only two starting members of the Rio lineup. Lead runner Shuhei Tada, a student at Kwansei Gakuin University who burst onto the scene in May, again proved himself the best new development in Japanese men's sprinting with a fast start. Rio members Shota Iizuka and Yoshihide Kiryu did their bits on second and third to keep Japan even with Jamaica in 3rd before Fujimitsu delivered the goods.

With bronze at the Beijing Olympics and silver in Rio last year it was Japan's first-ever World Championships men's 4x100 m relay medal. At age Fujimitsu may not make it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but with Cambridge, 200 m finalist Abdul Hakim Sani Brown and Rio team …