Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tokyo Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

Hot on the heels of Tuesday's announcement of the elite men's field for April's London Marathon comes the Tokyo Marathon's release of the men's and women's fields for its tenth running at the end of February.  Sporting six men recently under sub-2:06, the world record holder, 2015 world champion and reigning winners of four of the six World Marathon Majors, on paper London's field may be sexier up front than Tokyo's, but with defending Olympic gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), 2015 Chicago Marathon and 2014 Tokyo Marathon winner Dickson Chumba (Kenya), a raft of recent WMM top-3 placers including Kiprotich, Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya), Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya), and Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia), two-time defending Amsterdam Marathon winner Bernard Kipyego (Kenya) and the one thing none of the other WMM can deliver, a world-class domestic field, Tokyo more than holds its own.  For the last two years Tokyo has produced more gold label men's times, sub-2:10, than any other marathon in the world, and this year's field could do it again. 

Despite its hilly last 6 km the Tokyo Marathon has become the place for Japanese men to run fast, and with Tokyo counting in Olympic selection for men most of the ones who have done that in the last few years are back.  Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu), 2:07:39 last year.  Arata Fujiwara (Miki House), 2:07:48 to make the London Olympic team.  Kohei Matsumura (Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki), 2:08:09 two years ago.  Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) and Koji Gokaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon), 2:09:12 and 2:09:21 last year behind Imai.  The enigmatic Takehiro Deki (Team Chugoku Denryoku), winner of last summer's Gold Coast Half Marathon.  All know the course, all want Rio, all have deep competition for the Olympic team right behind them with ten Japanese men at the 2:10~2:12 level.

And that competition also includes not one, not two, not three or four or five but six ravenously anticipated debuts from some of the best of the new generation that is redefining Japanese distance running.  30 km national university record holder and 2015 and 2016 Hakone Ekiden Second Stage winner Yuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.).  First-year pro Kenta Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei), the fastest-ever Japanese university half marathoner at 1:00:50 and twin brother of newly-crowned 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama.  2015 World University Games half marathon gold medalist and 2016 Hakone Ekiden Seventh Stage winner Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.).  Silver medalist behind Ogura and 2015 National University Half Marathon champion Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.).  2016 Hakone Ekiden Eighth Stage winner and fastest-ever 18-year-old Japanese half marathoner Yuta Shimoda (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.), making his debut at the tender age of 19.  Satoshi Kikuchi (Josai Univ.), runner-up at last year's Ome 30 km.  As Hakone fever burns brighter and hotter than ever before after Aoyama Gakuin's second-straight win earlier this month you can bet viewership will be setting new records.  With any luck they'll see a race that topples the legendary 2003 Fukuoka International Marathon, where three Japanese men ran 2:07, two 2:08 and one more 2:09, from the record books.

With Tokyo joining the Osaka, Nagoya and former Yokohama women's marathons in having been burned by Eastern European winners whose results were later annulled due to doping violations, one thing viewers won't see is any Eastern European women.  Another thing they won't see is any Japanese women.  The Tokyo women's field is again likely to be the strongest of the year on Japanese soil, but without it counting toward women's Olympic selection there's not one Japanese women to be found among the invited elites.  2014 London Marathon winner Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), 2015 Berlin Marathon runner-up Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) and 2015 Toronto Waterfront Marathon winner Shure Demise (Ethiopia) lead the way with recent sub-2:21 times, another four women weighing in under 2:25.  You have to go down to the general division, however, to find a Japanese woman, with #1-ranked amateur Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) topping the home soil list at 2:31:28 in Tokyo three years ago.  Coming in off a long injury, Yoshitomi faces good competition from another high-level amateur, 2015 Zurich Marathon winner Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.), for the title of Japan's best indy.

10th Tokyo Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Tokyo, 2/28/16
click here for complete field listing
times listed are 2013-2015 best times except where noted

Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) - 2:03:13 (Berlin 2014)
Dickson Chumba (Kenya) - 2:04:32 (Chicago 2014)
Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya) - 2:05:21 (Berlin 2015)
Bernard Kipyego (Kenya) - 2:06:19 (Amsterdam 2015)
Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - 2:06:33 (Tokyo 2015)
Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) - 2:06:35 (Dubai 2015)
Masato Imai (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) - 2:07:39 (Tokyo 2015)
Kohei Matsumura (Japan/Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) - 2:08:09 (Tokyo 2014)
Samuel Ndungu (Kenya) - 2:08:21 (Lisbon 2014)
Abel Kirui (Kenya) - 2:09:04 (Tokyo 2014)
Hiroaki Sano (Japan/Honda) - 2:09:12 (Tokyo 2015)
Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Monteroza) - 2:09:18 (Tokyo 2015)
Koji Gokaya (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:09:21 (Tokyo 2015)
Javier Guerra (Spain) - 2:09:33 (London 2015)
Chiharu Takada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:03 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:10:50 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Sunbelx) - 2:11:02 (Tokyo 2013)
Takehiro Deki (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:11:14 (Tokyo 2015)
Shun Sato (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:11:39 (Tokyo 2015)
Yoshiki Otsuka (Japan/Aichi Seiko) - 2:11:40 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:11:48 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Arata Fujiwara (Japan/Miki House) - 2:11:50 (Hofu 2015)
Tatsunori Hamasaki (Japan/Komori Corp.) - 2:12:12 (Tokyo 2015)
Masashi Hayashi (Japan/Yakult) - 2:12:17 (Biwako 2013)
Hiroki Yamagishi (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:12:48 (Sydney 2015)
Kazuaki Shimizu (Japan/Yakult) - 2:12:49 (Nobeoka 2013)
Keiji Akutsu (Japan/Subaru) - 2:13:26 (Tokyo 2015)
Johana Maina (Kenya/Fujitsu) - 2:13:46 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Yasuyuki Nakamura (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:13:48 (Hofu 2015)
Yasuhiro Ikeda (Japan/NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:13:49 (Tokyo 2014)
Etsu Miyata (Japan/Saitama T&F Assoc.) - 2:14:09 (Nobeoka 2013)
Atsushi Hasegawa (Japan/Kawasaki T&F Assoc.) - 2:14:20 (Kasumigaura 2014)
Takanori Ide (Japan/Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:14:22 (Biwako 2014)
Shingo Igarashi (Japan/Josai Univ. Coaching Staff) - 2:14:24 (Hofu 2015)
Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Japan/Monteroza) - 2:14:35 (Berlin 2014)
Makoto Harada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:14:40 (Tokyo 2013)
Yuya Shiokawa (Japan/Subaru) - 2:14:49 (Tokyo 2013)
Ryota Matoba (Japan/Komori Corp.) - 2:15:00 (Nobeoka 2015)
Saeki Makino (Japan/DNPL Ekiden Club) - 2:15:22 (Seoul 2015)
Kenichi Jiromaru (Japan/Obirin Univ. Coaching Staff) - 2:15:24 (Biwako 2014)
Tomohiko Takenaka (Japan/NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:15:28 (Beppu-Oita 2014)
Yusuke Sato (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:15:30 (Biwako 2015)
Yuki Takamiya (Japan/Yakult) - 2:15:38 (Biwako 2014)
Satoru Kasuya (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 2:16:47 (Biwako 2013)
Aritaka Kajiwara (Japan/Kanagawa T&F Assoc.) - 2:18:01 (Biwako 2013)
Yuki Nanba (Japan/Kameoka AC) - 2:20:37 (Beppu-Oita 2015)

Yuma Hattori (Japan/Toyo Univ.) - 1:28:52 (Kumanichi 30 km 2014)
Kenta Murayama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 1:00:50 (Marugame Half 2014)
Teklemariam Medhin (Eritrea) - 1:01:47 (Lisbon Half 2014)
Yusuke Ogura (Japan/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:03 (Marugame Half 2015)
Tadashi Isshiki (Japan/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:09 (Marugame Half 2015)
Yuta Shimoda (Japan/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:22 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Satoshi Kikuchi (Japan/Josai Univ.) - 1:02:23 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Soufiane Bouchikhi (Belgium) - 1:03:45 (Den Haag Half 2015)

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:20:21 (London 2014)
Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:20:48 (Berlin 2015)
Shure Demise (Ethiopia) - 2:20:59 (Dubai 2015)
Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:22:30 (Tokyo 2014)
Amane Gobena (Ethiopia) - 2:23:29 (Paris 2015)
Ashete Bekele Dido (Ethiopia) - 2:23:43 (Dubai 2015)
Helah Kiprop (Kenya) - 2:24:03 (Tokyo 2015)
Isabellah Andersson (Sweden) - 2:26:05 (Dubai 2013)
Maja Neuenschwander (Switzerland) - 2:26:49 (Berlin 2015)
Hiroko Yoshitomi (Japan/First Dream AC) - 2:31:28 (Tokyo 2013)
Winfridah Kebaso (Kenya/Nittori) - 2:32:08 (Saitama 2015)
Yukiko Okuno (Japan/Shiseido) - 2:32:41 (Osaka Int'l 2015)
Hiroko Shoi (Japan/Denso) - 2:33:06 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/Y.W.C.) - 2:36:29 (Osaka Int'l 2015)
Kana Unno (Japan/Noritz) - 2:36:48 (Paris 2015)
Madoka Nakano (Japan/Noritz) - 2:37:43 (Izumisano 2015)

© 2016 Brett Larner
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