Skip to main content

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

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…

'$500,000 USD Prized Asian Premier Marathon Series 2017-18 Launched in Beijing'

http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/k2-component/143-500-000-usd-prized-asian-premier-marathon-series-2017-18-launched-in-beijing

A very interesting World Marathon Majors-style development with prize money only for Asian athletes. Equally interesting is the absence of a Japanese race in the series. Japanese marathoners would dominate the series if they ran its three component races, their only real current competition in Asia coming from East African-born Bahraini athletes.

Additions to Japanese National Team for London World Championships

The JAAF has made a series of announcements over the last week confirming additions to its small team for next month's London World Championships. Along with previously announced rosters for track and field events, combined events and road events, the following athletes have been added to the Japanese team. Relay members are pending IAAF confirmation. The final complete team roster is expected next week.

Men's 400 m Hurdles
Ryo Kajiki (Josai Univ.) - 49.33
Yusuke Ishida (Waseda Univ.) - 49.35

Men's 3000 m Steeplechase
Hironori Tsuetaki (Fujitsu) - 8:29.05

Men's 4 x 400 m Relay
Yuzo Kanemaru (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 45.76
Kosuke Horii (Sumitomo Denko) - 45.88

Women's Javelin Throw
Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 61.95 m

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved