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Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The elite field for the Mar. 6 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, the last selection race for the Japanese men's Rio Olympics team, is finally out, and it is a monster.  Fifteen men with sub-2:10 times in the last three years including nine Japanese men.  Tadese Tola leads the six quality internationals with a 2:04:49 at the 2013 Dubai Marathon, with the other five perfectly positioned from 2:06:43 to 2:08:55 to pull the massive Japanese field along to fast times.

2:08 men Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) lead the nine sub-2:10 Japanese men, but there are dozens more one level down from that who could step up including 2015 Sydney Marathon winner Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa) and 2014 Riga Marathon winner Yu Chiba (Team Honda). 

More potential can be found on the list of runners taking a second shot at the marathon after failed debuts.  Former Hakone Ekiden stars Shinobu Kubota (Team Toyota) and Ryuji Kashiwabara (Team Fujitsu) lead the way among the domestics, with Japan-based Ethiopian Kassa Mekashaw (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) making a quick turnaround after debuting in Hofu in December.

But some of the most exciting names are on the deep list of first-timers.  Sub-1:02:00 half marathoners Fumihiro Maruyama (Team Asahi Kasei), Sota Hoshi (Team Fujitsu) and Hiroto Inoue (Team Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) front this part of the field, but like in Tokyo a week earlier there is a big contingent of current collegiate men making their debuts led by Shohei Otsuka (Komazawa Univ.), Koki Ido (Waseda Univ.) and Shin Kimura (Meiji Univ.).

By Japanese standards it's one of if not the best domestic fields ever, and it's safe to say that no other country except Kenya or Ethiopia could put together a domestic field this good.  With the exception of Kawauchi the top Japanese finisher will have a good shot at being picked for the Rio team, aided by being able to gun for whatever the top Japanese man runs in Tokyo, the second of the three selection races.  Having already run in the first selection race, December's Fukuoka International Marathon, Kawauchi must run sub-2:06:30 or he will not be picked for the Rio team.  Kawauchi turned down a generous offer to run this year's London Marathon in order to enter himself in the general division in Lake Biwa with the motivation of finishing as the top Japanese man and forcing the JAAF to pick someone he had beaten, a move that would add to the ongoing controversy over the current poorly thought-out or intentionally opaque Olympic selection system.

The field in Tokyo looks like it may have a shot at topping the greatest marathon in Japanese history, the 2003 Fukuoka International Marathon Athens Olympics selection race where three Japanese men ran 2:07, two more 2:08 and a sixth 2:09.  Three other marathons have seen five Japanese man under 2:10, two of those in Olympic selection years and both of those at Lake Biwa.  This year's Lake Biwa field looks like it has the potential to far surpass those records and whatever happens the week before in Tokyo.  Don't miss NHK's commercial-free live broadcast of what should be a classic.

71st Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon
Elite Field Highlights
Otsu, Shiga, 3/6/16
click here for complete field listing
times listed are 2013-2015 bests except where noted

Tadese Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:04:49 (Dubai 2013)
Shumi Dechasa (Bahrain) - 2:06:43 (Hamburg 2014)
Lucas Rotich (Kenya) - 2:07:17 (Hamburg 2015)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:08:00 (Tokyo 2013)
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:08:14 (Seoul 2013)
Kentaro Nakamoto (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:08:35 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/NTN) - 2:08:50 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Shura Kitata (Ethiopia) - 2:08:53 (Shanghai 2015)
Henryk Szost (Poland) - 2:08:55 (Warsaw 2014)
Ryo Yamamoto (Japan/SGH Group) - 2:09:06 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:09:07 (Tokyo 2014)
Masanori Sakai (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:09:10 (Tokyo 2014)
Suehiro Ishikawa (Japan/Honda) - 2:09:10 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Takayuki Matsumiya (Japan/Aichi Seiko) - 2:09:14 (Tokyo 2013)
Tomoya Adachi (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:59 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Munyo Solomon Mutai (Uganda) - 2:10:42 (Hannover 2015)
Hideaki Tamura (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:54 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Soji Ikeda (Japan/Yakult) - 2:10:59 (Tokyo 2014)
Ryosuke Fukuyama (Japan/Honda) - 2:10:59 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Kazuki Tomaru (Japan/Toyoa) - 2:11:25 (Berlin 2014)
Noritaka Fujiyama (Japan/Sumitomo Denko) - 2:11:34 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Tomohiro Tanigawa (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:11:39 (Nagano 2015)
Tomoyuki Morita (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:11:41 (Tokyo 2015)
Kohei Ogino (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:11:42 (Nagano 2015)
Takuya Fukatsu (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:48 (Nagano 2015)
Rui Yonezawa (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:11:59 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Noriaki Takahashi (Japan/DeNA) - 2:12:00 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Alphonce Felix Simbu (Tanzania) - 2:12:01 (Gold Coast 2015)
Hisanori Kitajima (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:12:28 (Nobeoka 2015)
Takuya Noguchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:12:29 (Lake Biwa 2015)
Ryo Kiname (Japan/Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) - 2:12:48 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Naoki Okamoto (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:12:55 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Tadashi Suzuki (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:13:10 (Hofu 2015)
Yu Chiba (Japan/Honda) - 2:13:19 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Yusei Nakao (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:13:23 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Masahiro Kawaguchi (Japan/Yakult) - 2:13:27 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Norikazu Kato (Japan/Yakult) - 2:13:34 (Nobeoka 2015)
Dishon Karukuwa Maina (Kenya/Omokawa Zaimoku) - 2:13:38 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Sho Matsumoto (Japan/Nikkei Business) - 2:13:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Shigeki Tsuji (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:13:41 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Tomonori Sakamoto (Japan/Press Kogyo) - 2:13:49 (Nagano 2015)
Liam Adams (Australia) - 2:13:49 (Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014)
Ryo Ishita (Japan/SDF Academy) - 2:13:52 (Nobeoka 2014)
Bunta Kuroki (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:14:27 (Warsaw 2014)

Second Marathon
Shinobu Kubota (Japan/Toyota) - 2:15:48 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Kassa Mekashaw (Ethiopia/Yachiyo Kogyo) - 2:16:38 (Hofu 2015)
Kazuya Deguchi (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:17:59 (Nobeoka 2013)
Ryuji Kashiwabara (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:20:44 (Sydney 2015)
Daisuke Matsufuji (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:21:08 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Yusuke Takabayashi (Japan/Toyota) - 2:21:27 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Yuichiro Ueno (Japan/DeNA) - 2:22:34 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Kenta Murozuka (Japan/DeNA) - 2:30:38 (Lake Biwa 2015)

Debut
Fumihiro Maruyama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 1:01:15 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2013)
Sota Hoshi (Japan/Fujitsu) - 1:01:18 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Hiroto Inoue (Japan/Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) - 1:01:39 (Marugame Half 2014)
Kenta Kitazawa (Japan/Yachiyo Kogyo) - 1:02:32 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Shohei Otsuka (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:32 (Ageo Half 2014)
Koki Ido (Japan/Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:33 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2014)
Hiroyuki Sasaki (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:02:36 (Marugame Half 2012)
Shin Kimura (Japan/Meiji Univ.) - 1:02:45 (Marugame Half 2015)
Jun Sato (Japan/Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:49 (Ageo Half 2014)
Yuta Takahashi (Japan/DeNA) - 59:23 (Yosenkai 20 km 2009)
Yuki Matsuoka (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 27:59.78 (Fukuoka 10000 m, 2012)

© 2016 Brett Larner
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