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Nagoya Women's Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

The world's largest women-only marathon, Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon is the end of the Japanese Olympic marathon selection saga, if not the end of the drama.  2015 World Championships marathon bronze medalist Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) is back to defend her title, and will, her last race a 1:08:06 win last month at Japan's Marugame Half in national record time.  Formerly-Japan based Betelhem Moges (Ethiopia) is her only real international competition, but it would take an off day from Kirwa for Moges to really stand a chance.

At the 2014 Asian Games Kirwa beat Japan's Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) for gold.  Kizaki comes to Nagoya with the best time in the last three years among Japanese women, 2:23:34 in Nagoya in 2013, but while Kirwa's star has only risen since then Kizaki's hit a brick wall.  In 2015 she only raced once, placing only 13th on her stage at December's National Corporate Women's Marathon.  There's nothing to go on to suggest that she can live up to her position as the best challenger for the JAAF-imposed 2:22:30 Olympic standard, part of the reason for the withdrawal of Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), winner of January's Osaka International Women's Marathon.

The general consensus is that barring a surprisingly slow race like in Tokyo two weeks ago, the top Japanese woman in Nagoya will join Fukushi and Beijing World Championships 7th-placer Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) in Rio.  Kizaki is a question mark along with #2 Japanese seed and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), making a last stab at returning to Olympic glory.

The most likely domestic top may come from the second group of 2:25-2:27 women including 2014 Asian Games 4th-placer Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto), 2014 Yokohama Women's winner Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), 2015 Rotterdam Marathon winner Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) and U-20 record holder Reia Iwade (Team Noritz).  There's also a large group of good half marathoners taking a second shot at the marathon, chief among them last year's fastest Japanese woman for the half marathon, Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya), who suffered a bad fall in Nagoya last year in her debut.  Leading this year's debutantes is 2015 National Corporate Half Marathon champion Michi Numata (Team Toyota Jidoshokki).

With this kind of depth it should be a close and unpredictable race for the Olympic team, if not for the win.  Watch live on Fuji TV starting at 9:00 a.m. Japan time this Sunday, and follow @JRNLive for live coverage worldwide.  The announcement of the complete women's and men's marathon team members for the Rio Olympics is scheduled for March 17.

Nagoya Women's Marathon - Elite Field
Nagoya, 3/13/16
click here for detailed field listing
times listed are 2013-2016 bests except where noted

Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:22:08 (Nagoya 2015)
Ryoko Kizaki (Japan/Daihatsu) - 2:23:34 (Nagoya 2013)
Mizuki Noguchi (Japan/Sysmex) - 2:24:05 (Nagoya 2013)
Betelhem Moges (Ethiopia) - 2:24:29 (Dubai 2015)
Eri Hayakawa (Japan/Toto) - 2:25:31 (Nagoya 2014)
Yuko Watanabe (Japan/Edion) - 2:25:56 (Osaka Women's 2013)
Tomomi Tanaka (Japan/Daiichi Seimei) - 2:26:05 (Nagoya 2014)
Asami Kato (Japan/Panasonic) - 2:26:30 (Rotterdam 2015)
Yoko Miyauchi (Japan/Hokuren) - 2:17:17 (Nagoya 2013)
Reia Iwade (Japan/Noritz) - 2:27:21 (Yokohama Women's 2014)
Monica Jepkoech (Kenya) - 2:27:26 (Toronto Waterfront 2015)
Iwona Lewandowska (Poland) - 2:27:47 (London 2015)
Aki Odagiri (Japan/Tenmaya) - 2:30:24 (Nagoya 2015)
Mizuho Nasukawa (Japan/Univ. Ent.) - 2:30:27 (Yokohama Women's 2013)
Yuka Takemoto (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:31:02 (Kitakyushu 2014)
Shiho Takechi (Japan/Yamada Denki) - 2:31:18 (Nagoya 2015)
Haruna Takada (Japan/Yamada Denki) - 2:31:23 (Nagoya 2015)
Hiroko Yoshitomi (Japan/First Dream AC) - 2:31:28 (Tokyo 2013)
Manami Kamitanida (Japan/Hitachi) - 2:31:34 (Tokyo 2014)
Yuko Mizuguchi (Japan/Denso) - 2:31:39 (Nagoya 2014)
Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) - 2:32:11 (La Rochelle 2015)
Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Japan/Noritz) - 2:32:37 (Nagoya 2015)
Megumi Amako (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:34:28 (Seoul 2015)
Kanae Shimoyama (Japan/Noritz) - 2:35:26 (Osaka Women's 2015)
Sakiko Matsumi (Japan/Daiichi Seimei) - 2:36:45 (Nagoya 2014)
Jenna Challenor (South Africa) - 2:41:44 (Mossel Bay 2014)
Mei Matsuyama (Japan/Noritz) - 2:42:35 (Kobe 2015)
Kaoru Nagao (Japan/Universal Entertainment) - 2:51:11 (Osaka Women's 2015)
Rei Ohara (Japan/Tenmaya) - 3:05:21 (Nagoya 2015)

Debut
Michi Numata (Japan/Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:09:27 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Mao Kiyota (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 1:10:31 (Valencia 2015)
Ai Inoue (Japan/Noritz) - 1:11:02 (Matsue 2015)
Akane Sekino (Japan/Hokuren) - 1:11:17 (Marugame 2016)
Sayaka Kuwahara (Japan/Sekisui Kagaku) - 1:13:49 (Matsue 2014)

© 2016 Brett Larner
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