Skip to main content

Again to Hofu

by Brett Larner

Marathon season is over for the year, right? Yes, no, there is one more to go, this Sunday in Hofu, maybe the last time two greats meet head-to-head for real. Witness 2:07 Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House), on a long comeback with wins in two low-key marathons this fall, taking a step toward February’s Tokyo Marathon. Witness his longtime independent rival and friend Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t), still reeling from his Olympic hopes shattering two weeks ago in Fukuoka, moving on. Fujiwara, looking to run 2:10 to 2:11 before going for the Rio Olympic team in Tokyo and the million dollar bonus to any runner who breaks the 2:06:16 Japanese national record. “If I run 2:09 in Hofu,” he deadpanned to JRN, “then maybe 2:05 in Tokyo.” Kawauchi, realistic about his chances after a hard race and a tough 2015 where 2:11 would be his fastest time of the year, saying, “I don’t know if I can beat Arata.” Right now they are tied 3-3 in the six marathons they have run against each other to date. Sunday is Game 7. There can be only one. One more marathon, one more classic head-to-head, one more time.

And there’s another, a darkhorse indy close to both, a friend and competitor of Kawauchi’s since high school, madman Honolulu Marathon frontrunner Saeki Makino (DNPL Ekiden Team). Makino ran a PB of 2:15:22 in November in Seoul, then in Fukuoka went through halfway in 1:04:27, a PB by 7 seconds. “This was just a training run for Hofu,” he told JRN right after he finished in Fukuoka. “In Hofu I’m aiming to run 2:12.” 2:12 would be right up Kawauchi’s current alley and puts Makino in range of Fujiwara’s plans. If Makino succeeds it could be the first time that he beats his more famous friends in a marathon, and with a handful of other Japanese runners and Tanzanians Alphonce Simbu and Fabiano Joseph just behind at the 2:12-2:15 level there should be company to make sure it’s not just an end-of-the-year stroll.

46th Hofu Yomiuri Marathon Elite Field
Hofu, Yamaguchi, 12/20/15
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best times in 2013-2015

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) – 2:08:14 (Seoul Int’l 2013)
Alphonce Simbu (Tanzania) – 2:12:01 (Gold Coast 2015)
Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business Service) – 2:13:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Atsushi Hasegawa (Kawasaki T&F Assoc.) – 2:14:20 (Kasumigaura 2014)
Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Monteroza) – 2:14:36 (Berlin 2014)
Yasuyuki Nakamura (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) – 2:14:41 (Tokyo 2013)
Fabiano Joseph (Tanzania) – 2:15:21 (Glasgow 2014)
Saeki Makino (DNPL Ekiden Team) – 2:15:22 (Seoul 2015)
Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) – 2:16:49 (Hokkaido 2015)
Takeshi Makabe (Kurosaki Harima) – 2:18:32 (Tokyo 2013)

text and photos © 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Brett Larner said…
Fujiwara and Kawauchi head-to-head in the marathon so far:

2014 Gold Coast Airport Marathon
3. Kawauchi - 2:11:27
15. Fujiwara - 2:25:11

2013 Fukuoka International Marathon
3. Kawauchi - 2:09:05
DNF - Fujiwara

2012 Fukuoka International Marathon
4. Fujiwara - 2:09:31
6. Kawauchi - 2:10:29

2012 Tokyo Marathon
2. Fujiwara - 2:07:48
14. Kawauchi - 2:12:51

2011 Tokyo Marathon
3. Kawauchi - 2:08:37
57. Fujiwara - 2:29:21

2010 Tokyo Marathon
2. Fujiwara - 2:12:34
4. Kawauchi - 2:12:36

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi and Kiyara Live Up to Expectations With Wan Jin Shi Wins

Returning to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon after having first run it in 2016, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:14:12 to score his fourth-straight marathon win in a third-straight wire-to-wire solo performance. Choosing the hilly Wan Jin Shi Marathon as his final main tuneup for next month's Boston Marathon, Kawauchi came out swinging, leading an all-African pack of seven by almost 10 seconds after the tough uphill opening 5 km and stretching that out to over two minutes by the turnaround point at halfway.

On track to break the 2:13:05 course record by more than two minutes. under sunny skies with temperatures climbing to 22C and nearly 80% humidity Kawauchi began to slow incrementally. Behind him, Johnstone Kibet Maiyo (Kenya) and Aredome Tiuyay Degefa (Ethiopia) separated from the chase pack and began to push each other in pursuit of the top spot. With every 5 km split the gap to Kawauchi narrowed. At 40 km Maiyo threw down to get rid of Degefa, blasting the dow…

Kawauchi and Kiyara Headline Wan Jin Shi Marathon

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returns to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon this Sunday for his marathon of the post-Yuta Shitara era. The runner-up in Wan Jin Shi in 2016, Kawauchi is ranked #1 in the field and comes to Wan Jin Shi with wins in his last three marathons but faces a solid field including fellow sub-2:10 man Peter Kiplagat Sitenei, last year's runner-up Tsegaye Debele (Ethiopia), and the only man to beat him last time around, 2016 winner and course record holder William Chebon Chebor (Kenya). Kawauchi plans to use the hilly race as a tune-up for his main marathon of the spring season, April's Boston Marathon.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rael Kiyara Nguriatukei (Kenya), winner of the 2012 Hamburg Marathon before being stripped of her title and suspended for a positive post-race test for norandrosterone, has the fastest recent time in the women's field with a 2:26:22 winning time at last year's Chongqing Marathon. Close behind is Chemtai …

Japan Names Asian Games Marathon Team

On Mar. 16 the JAAF announced the Japanese marathon team for this August's Jakarta Asian Games. Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) and Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) make up the men's squad, with Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) and Hanae Tanaka (Shiseido) named to the women's team.

A member of the Japanese national team for last summer's London World Championships, Inoue ran an all-time Japanese #4 time of 2:06:54 at February's Tokyo Marathon, the 2nd-placing Japnaese man behind national record setter Yuta Shitara (Honda). Sonoda ran a PB of 2:09:34 to finish in the top Japanese position at 2nd overall earlier in February at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.

The silver medalist at November's Asian Championships marathon, Nogami was 5th earlier this month at the Nagoya Women's Marathon in a PB of 2:26:33. Tanaka was next behind her in Nagoya in 6th in 2:27:40, the only member of the Asian Games team not to have yet qualified for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials race. A meda…