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Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

For its 70th edition the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon has wheeled out another quality field of top-level domestic elites peppered with an international seasoning to meet IAAF labelling requirements.  Like the United States' Houston Half Marathon, Marugame is a surprisingly fast race where many run lifetime bests they never approach again, enough of them to set world records for depth.  For Japanese men this year it serves as one of the selection races for the 2016 World Half Marathon team while for the women it's simply a day at the races.

Five athletes with recent sub-70 marks make up the top tier in the women's race.  2014 Asian Games gold medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) leads the way with a best of 1:08:31, followed closely by Diane Nukuri (Burundi) and the top female Japanese half marathoner of 2015, Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya).  Just under the 70-minute mark with PBs at December's Sanyo Ladies' Half are the promising Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and last year's Marugame winner Eloise Wellings (Australia).  Wellings will need to improve on the 1:10:41 she ran last year to have a shot at repeating.  Other notable names include 2015 World University Games half marathon bronze medalist Ayumi Uehara (Matsuyama Univ.) and internationals Anna Incerti (Italy) and Natasha Wodak (Canada).

For the last two years Masato Kikuchi (Team Konica Minolta) has doubled at Marugame and the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships two weeks later.  In 2014 he ran PBs of 1:01:50 and 1:01:17.  Last year he ran PBs of 1:00:57 and 1:00:32, missing the national record by 7 seconds but becoming the first Japanese man to break 1:01 twice in his career.  Kikuchi comes back the #1 seed, his main competition coming from 2013 winner Collis Birmingham (Australia) and Kikuchi's Konica Minolta teammates Keita Shitara and Tsuyoshi Ugachi.  With good weather there's a pretty good chance we'll see a shot at the national record, bolstered by the long-awaited serious half marathon debut of track star and aspiring marathoner Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin).  Further support comes from recent sub-1:02 men Goitom Kifle (Eritrea), Taku Fujimoto (Team Toyota), Kenji Yamamoto (Team Mazda) and Fabiano Sulle (Tanzania).

Other interesting names include 2015 World Championships marathon silver medalist Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia), top-level Hakone Ekiden collegiate runners Naoki Kudo (Komazawa Univ.), Ryo Shirayoshi (Tokai Univ.), Kazuki Tamura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) and Yuhi Akiyama (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.), debuting Japan-based Kenyans James Mwangi (Team NTN) and Dominic Nyairo (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.), London Olympics marathoners Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group) and Arata Fujiwara (Miki House), 2015 World University Games 10000 m bronze medalist Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.), ekiden favorites Shuho Dairokuno (Team Asahi Kasei) and Akinobu Murasawa (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and cancer survivor Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku).

70th Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon
Elite Field Highlights
Marugame, Kagawa, 2/7/16
click here for complete elite field listing
times listed are 2013-2015 bests except where noted.

Women
Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 1:08:31 (Luanda 2014)
Diane Nukuri (Burundi) - 1:09:12 (NYC 2013)
Rei Ohara (Japan/Tenmaya) - 1:09:17 (Sanyo Ladies 2015)
Yuka Ando (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:09:51 (Sanyo Ladies 2015)
Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 1:09:56 (Sanyo Ladies 2015)
Anna Incerti (Italy) - 1:10:10 (Verona 2014)
Kotomi Takayama (Japan/Sysmex) - 1:10:47 (Matsue Ladies 2015)
Ayumi Uehara (Japan/Matsuyama Univ.) - 1:11:19 (Sanyo Ladies 2015)
Natasha Wodak (Canada) - 1:11:20 (NYC 2015)
Rika Shintaku (Japan/Shimamura) - 1:11:23 (Sanyo Ladies 2013)
Yukiko Okuno (Japan/Shiseido) - 1:11:28 (Matsue Ladies 2015)
Noriko Higuchi (Japan/Wacoal) - 1:11:28 (Sendai 2013)
Mami Onuki (Japan/Sysmex) - 1:11:37 (Matsue Ladies 2015)
Miya Nishio (Japan/Hokuren) - 1:12:24 (Matsue Ladies 2015)
Erika Ikeda (Japan/Higo Ginko) - 1:12:38 (Sanyo Ladies 2015)
Kanae Imai (Japan/Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 1:12:47 (Matsue Ladies 2015)
Aki Odagiri (Japan/Tenmaya) - 1:12:58 (Matsue Ladies 2013)

Men
Masato Kikuchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:00:32 (Nat'l Corp. 2015)
Collis Birmingham (Australia) - 1:00:56 (Marugame 2013)
Keita Shitara (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:01:12 (Nat'l Corp. 2015)
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:01:16 (Marugame 2013)
Goitom Kifle (Eritrea) - 1:01:18 (Lisbon 2013)
Taku Fujimoto (Japan/Toyota) - 1:01:31 (Nat'l Corp. 2015)
Kenji Yamamoto (Japan/Mazda) - 1:01:47 (Nat'l Corp. 2014)
Fabiano Sulle (Tanzania) - 1:01:59 (Incheon 2015)
Masaki Ito (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:02:00 (Marugame 2013)
Ryo Yamamoto (Japan/SGH Group) - 1:02:05 (Marugame 2013)
Naoki Kudo (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:12 (Nat'l Univ. 2015)
Tomohiro Shiiya (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:15 (Nat'l Corp. 2013)
Ryo Shirayoshi (Japan/Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:16 (Nat'l Univ. 2015)
Hiromitsu Kakuage (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:02:20 (Marugame 2013)
Kazuki Tamura (Japan/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:22 (Nat'l Univ. 2015)
Shuho Dairokuno (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:22 (Marugame 2013)
Chiharu Takada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:22 (Marugame 2013)
Gen Hachisuka (Japan/Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:26 (Marugame 2015)
Suehiro Ishikawa (Japan/Honda) - 1:02:26 (Marugame 2013)
Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) - 1:02:29 (Marugame 2014)
Yuichiro Ogawa (Japan/NTN) - 1:02:30 (Marugame 2013)
Hideaki Tamura (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:37 (Marugame 2013)
Keigo Yano (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:02:38 (Ageo 2013)
Kazuaki Iwami (Japan/Kyudenko) - 1:02:38 (Marugame 2013)
Yuta Katsumata (Japan/Nittai Univ.) - 1:02:39 (Marugame 2014)
Hidehito Takamine (Japan/Fujitsu) - 1:02:42 (Marugame 2014)
Kazuyoshi Shimozato (Japan/Press Kogyo) - 1:02:44 (Nat'l Corp. 2015)
Arata Fujiwara (Japan/Miki House) - 1:02:44a (Great North Run 2013)
Tomoya Shirayanagi (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:45 (Nat'l Corp. 2015)
Soma Ishikawa (Japan/Nihon Univ.) - 1:02:46 (Marugame 2015)
Rei Omori (Japan/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:47 (Nat'l Univ. 2015)
Hiroki Yamagishi (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:02:51 (Nat'l Univ.) - 2013)
Satoru Kasuya (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 1:02:53 (Marugame 2013)
Keita Shioya (Japan/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:57 (Nat'l Univ. 2014)
Keijiro Mogi (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 1:03:11 (Tamana 2015)
Yuhi Akiyama (Japan/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:00 (Setagaya 246 2015)
Keisuke Nakatani (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:46 (Ageo 2013)
Akinobu Murasawa (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:08 (Yosenkai 20 km 2009)
Takuya Tanabe (Japan/Juntendo Univ.) - 59:38 (Yosenkai 20 km 2015)
James Mwangi (Kenya/NTN) - 27:23.66 (Abashiri 10000 m 2014)
Yuki Sato (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:39.50 (Stanford 10000m 2013)
Dominic Nyairo (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 28:11.00 (Abashiri 10000 m 2015)

© 2016 Brett Larner
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