translated and edited by Brett Larner
The organizers of the 5th Kumamoto-jo Marathon have announced the elite field for the Feb. 21 Kanaguri Memorial Kumanichi 30 km Road Race, held alongside the Kumamoto-jo Marathon as its elite race. Celebrating Kumanichi's 60th anniversary running, this year’s elite men’s field features strong young athletes who made an impact on the competitive Third and Fourth Stages at the New Year Ekiden corporate men’s national championships on Jan. 1. With university runners having won Kumanichi the last two years the corporate runners’ battle to get back on top will be one of the main draws this year.
The fresh young corporate league contingent is led by two members of the New Year Ekiden runner-up team Konica Minolta, Masato Kikuchi and Keita Shitara, along with local Chiharadai H.S. graduate Kento Otsu of New Year Ekiden 3rd-placer Toyota Kyushu. Last year Kikuchi ran the third-fastest half marathon ever by a Japanese man, 1:00:32. Shitara finished 4th in Kumanichi three years ago during his third year at Toyo University in a then-university national record 1:29:55. With Shota Hattori (Honda) having led Nittai University to its first Hakone Ekiden win in 30 years three years ago the domination of former Hakone stars in this year’s field is obvious.
At the same time, current Hakone stars are looking to extend their Kumanichi winning streak to three, with Ryo Kuchimachi and Shun Sakuraoka of this year’s Hakone runner-up Toyo leading the way.
Sayo Nomura and Sakiko Matsumi of the Daiichi Seimei corporate team top the women’s field. Kumamoto Chuo H.S. graduate Seika Nishikawa (Sysmex) will be making her 30 km debut on home ground.
One other top-level invited male athlete, Akinobu Murasawa (Nissin Shokuhin) has withdrawn with injury. Along with the invited athletes, 100 corporate and amateur runners including 11 women are entered in the general division. With an eye toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, anticipation is high that this year’s race will see the birth of a new star. The race begins at 9:00 a.m.
60th Kumanichi 30 km Road Race Elite Field
click here for complete field listing
all times are 2013-2015 half marathon bests except where noted
Hiroki Kadota (Kanebo) – 2:10:46 (Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon 2015)
Keita Shitara (Konica Minolta) – 1:29:55 (Kumanichi 30 km 2013)
Masaki Ito (Konica Minolta) - 1:30:21 (Ome 30 km 2013)
Masato Kikuchi (Konica Minolta) – 1:00:32 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Shota Hattori (Honda) – 1:01:25 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Tomohiro Shiiya (Toyota Boshoku) – 1:02:15 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2013)
Ryo Matsumoto (Toyota) – 1:02:32 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2013)
Hidehito Takamine (Fujitsu) - 1:02:42 (Marugame Half 2014)
Shun Sakuraoka (Toyo Univ.) – 1:02:53 (Ageo Half 2014)
Shoya Kurokawa (JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:03:22 (Ageo Half 2015)
Daisuke Koyama (Chudenko) – 1:03:22 (Marugame Half 2014)
Ryota Yabushita (Meiji Univ.) - 1:03:23 (Marugame Half 2015)
Ryo Kuchimachi (Toyo Univ.) – 1:03:29 (Ageo Half 2015)
Kento Otsu (Toyota Kyushu) – 1:03:29 (Tamana Half 2015)
Yuko Matsumiya (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:03:30 (Marugame Half 2013
Sayo Nomura (Daiichi Seimei) – 1:10:03 (Sanyo Ladies’ Half 2013)
Sakiko Matsumi (Daiichi Seimei) – 1:10:10 (Marugame Half 2013)
Mami Onuki (Sysmex) - 1:11:37 (Matsue Ladies' Half 2015)
Yoko Miyauchi (Hokuren) - 1:12:22 (Sanyo Ladies' 2015)
Sakie Arai (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) – 1:12:57 (Matsue Ladies’ Half 2015)
Seika Nishikawa (Sysmex) – 1:18:28 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)