Thursday, December 17, 2015

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

1 comment:

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