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Sakamoto and Kawauchi Return to Zurich Marathon

by Brett Larner

Most of the running world will be focused on the London Marathon, where among others Japanese track and ekiden great Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) will be trying again to get the marathon right, but there's at least one other good race this weekend.  Last year Yoshiko Sakamoto (YWC), an unknown amateur runner and mother of three, seemed to come out of nowhere to win Switzerland's Zurich Marathon, with the popular Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) taking 2nd in what ended up being his fastest race of an injury-prone 2015.  This year both Sakamoto and Kawauchi return to Zurich for Sunday's race with support from JRN.

Sakamoto faces at least two strong rivals this year.  It has been a while since Kenyan-born Swede Isabellah Andersson's 2:23:41 PB in Dubai 2011 or even since she broke 2:30, but with a 2:30:02 in Tokyo in February she is still the best in the field.  A stroke against her: Andersson only joined the Zurich field after a DNF in Rotterdam earlier this month.  Katharina Heinig, daughter of German legend Katrin Dorre, is next on the list with a 2:33:56 best from Hamburg 2014 and will be trying to make the German Olympic team.  To do that she will need to beat Anna Hahner's 2:30:35 from Hannover two weeks ago.  Sakamoto, who pulled out of January's Osaka International Women's Marathon when her children came down with the flu and the Tokyo Marathon when she did the same, is seeded third and will have a tough time repeating.

Kawauchi ran Zurich last year still struggling with complications from an ankle sprain, finishing 2nd in 2:12:13.  This year he is fit, well-trained and enthusiastic about going for his first sub-2:10 win outside Japan.  Ethiopian Abere Belay is the only other athlete in the field to have broken 2:10 with a 2:08:18 in Dubai 2014, but since then he hasn't broken 2:12 in four attempts.  Kenyans Edwin Kiprop Korir and Titus Masai form the rest of the small front group, but the race looks like Kawauchi's to lose.  The forecast is not looking ideal for fast times; sometimes it snows in April, but wet or dry there's still a race to be run.

14th Zurich Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Zurich, Switzerland, 4/24/16
times listed are bests in last three years except where indicated

Women
Isabellah Andersson (Sweden) - 2:30:02 (Tokyo 2016)
Katharina Heinig (Germany) - 2:33:56 (Hamburg 2014)
Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/YWC)  2:36:29 (Osaka Women's 2015)
Jane Fardell (Australia) - 2:37:35 (Paris 2013)
Alemitu Bekele Aga (Belgium) - 2:39:26 (Ticino 2011)

Men
Abere Belay (Ethiopia) - 2:08:18 (Dubai 2014)
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:05 (Fukuoka Int'l 2013)
Edwin Kiprop Korir (Kenya) - 2:10:26 (Zurich 2013)
Titus Masai (Kenya) - 2:11:16 (Torino 2014)
Bizuneh Melaku Belachew (Ethiopia) - 2:13:10 (Mainz 2015)
Tesfamariam Solomon (Eritrea) - 2:14:51 (Berlin 2015)
Adrian Lehmann (Switzerland) - 2:15:08 (Berlin 2015)
Mohamednur Hamd (Eritrea) - 2:16:40 (Florence 2015)
Michael Ott (Switzerland) - 2:16:53 (Zurich 2013)
Tewodros Zewdu Asfaw (Ethiopia) - 2:17:02 (Poitiers 2013)
Wissem Hosni (Tunisia) - 2:17:59 (San Sebastian 2014)

text and photo © 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

soycobarde.com said…
Lebo Phalula ?? She ran one week ago in Enschede Marathon (2:33:48, her PB).
Kawauchi Style ;)
Brett Larner said…
My bad. She was the last version of the official entry list but has been taken off the current one.

Most-Read This Week

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume

Known as the Civil Servant Runner, Saitama Prefectural Government employee Yuki Kawauchi's career record of 78 sub-2:20 marathons was officially recognized as the Guinness World Record at a ceremony in his hometown of Kuki, Saitama on Mar. 25.  Raised in Kuki, Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government after graduating from university. Running while working full-time as a civil servant, he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trial race.

Earlier this month on the 18th Kawauchi ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon, winning in 2:14:12. His 78th time running faster than 2 hours and 20 minutes, his achievement was certified as the official Guinness World Record. He actually broke the previous record on Jan. 1 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A. with his 76th sub-2:20 but followed up with two performances, one in February and the other last week, before Guinness could ratify the record.

The official recognition ceremony took place Mar. 2…

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…