Skip to main content

Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The proving ground marathon in Japan's Eugene, Athlete Town Nobeoka's Nishi Nippon Marathon hosts its 54th running on Feb. 14.  Proving among other things that change can come even to the most conservative parts of Japan, for the second year in a row Nobeoka will feature a women's field, small and entry-level but still a sign of positive change.  Like the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon a week earlier, Nobeoka's men's field suffers a bit in the face of the Olympic selection races at Tokyo and Lake Biwa just a few weeks later, but it does feature a large lineup of promising first-timers who should help fulfill Nobeoka's original purpose as the race where future marathoners are made.

The local Asahi Kasei team fields the top three entrants.  Its Ryoichi Matsuo and Taiki Yoshimura lead the way with recent bests of 2:12:11 and 2:13:12, but the most exciting on the list is Asahi Kasei's Fumihiro Maruyama, 1:29:34 at the 2013 Kumanichi 30 km and 1:01:15 for the half marathon just a few weeks later and coming in strong off a win at the Oita City Half a few weeks ago.

The Asahi Kasei trio's toughest competition comes from two first-timers from the team that rivals them for the claim of being the best Japanese marathon team, Honda.  Former Komazawa University captain Wataru Ueno will be debuting for Honda with a 1:02:39 half marathon best in 2014, joined by teammate Yuki Maeda.  With weaker credentials Honda's Hiroaki Sano popped a 2:12:14 debut for the win in Nobeoka two years ago, going on to run 2:09:12 in Tokyo last year.

Having run 1:02:27 at last year's National Corporate Half Marathon Shusei Ohashi of the JR Higashi Nihon Team, another team producing good numbers of 2:09-2:10 marathoners, stands as another top contender for a breakthrough debut.  Four other runners on the entry list have recent half marathon times under 1:03:00, suggesting sub-2:12 potential.  Times in Nobeoka have been getting consistently faster over the last six years, and with any luck someone may get close to the 2:11:05 course record.

54th Noboeka Nishi Nippon Marathon 
Elite Field Highlights
Nobeoka, Miyazaki, 2/14/16
click here for complete field listing
all times listed are 2013-2015 bests except where noted

Men
Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (Nobeoka 2014)
Taiki Yoshimura (Asahi Kasei) - 2:13:12 (Hofu 2015)
Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business) - 2:13:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Shoji Takada (Suzuki Hamamatsu) - 2:17:05 (Shizuoka 2015)
Sora Tsukada (SGH Group) - 2:17:52 (Izumisano 2015)
Wataru Yamaguchi (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:18:25 (Tokyo 2015)
Masaki Hori (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:18:55 (Nagano 2014)
Yuya Ito (Toyota) - 2:18:58 (Hokkaido 2015)
Fumihiro Maruyama (Asahi Kasei) - 1:29:34 (Kumanichi 30 km 2013)
Shusei Ohashi (JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:27 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Wataru Ueno (Honda) - 1:02:39 (Marugame 2014)
Shuji Yoshikawa (Kyudenko) - 1:02:43 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Kenta Matsubara (Toyota) - 1:02:50 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Shinichiro Tai (Fujitsu) - 1:02:54 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2013)
Shogo Sekiguchi (Subaru) - 1:02:57 (Ageo 2013)
Daichi Kato (Toyota Kyushu) - 1:03:01 (Tamana 2013)
Kazuya Namera (Subaru) - 1:03:10 (Marugame 2015)
Naoki Nishio (Chudenko) - 1:03:23 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Tetsuya Sasaki (Chudenko) - 1:03:25 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Takahiro Gunji (Komori Corp.) - 1:03:25 (Ageo 2013)
Yuki Maeda (Honda) - 1:03:31 (Marugame 2015)

Women
Misato Hokama (Starts) - 1:17:15 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Misaki Yoshida (Shoin Univ.) - 1:23:12 (Tachikawa 2015)
Yurika Sakai (Saitama T&F Assoc.)

© 2016 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…

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 d…

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…