by Brett Larner
With its long history of hosting Russians now interrupted by the IAAF's doping scandal suspension of all Russian athletes, Japan's Nagano Marathon proudly welcomes two other athletes with recent drug suspensions to lead the women's field at next weekend's 18th edition. Gladys Tejeda (Peru) tops the list with the loss of her gold medal in last summer's Pan-Am Games marathon after testing positive for the masking agent furosemide. Close behind is Kaori Yoshida (Runners Pulse), who holds the honor of being the only Japanese athlete to have been publicly suspended for EPO after testing positive at the 2012 Honolulu Marathon.
With both having run 2:28 bests last year they are almost 4 minutes ahead of the fastest athlete in the field never to have served a drug suspension, Kenya's Hellen Mugo. Neither is currently under suspension, an indication that Nagano and its elite coordinator share the familiar focus here on details at the expense of the big picture or moral considerations. A growing number of other races might not touch people like Tejeda and Yoshida, but with a win by one of them likely there's not much doubt that the Nagano Marathon will get what it's asking for. Together with other events Nagano sends the clear message: remember, if you're serving a drug suspension don't lose heart. You can always find Japanese races and elite coordinators ready to take you back.
The men's field looks drug suspension-free, Laban Mutai (Kenya) the favorite with a 2:08:03 at the 2014 Linz Marathon. On paper Japan-based Mongolian national record holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Team NTN) is his toughest competition, but with wild swings in performance ranging from a 1:02:10 national record at February's Marugame Half to a blistering 2:27:30 at March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon he's hard to read. Other internationals include Jairus Chanchima (Kenya), 2005 World Half Marathon gold medalist Fabiano Joseph (Tanzania) and Harry Summers (Australia).
Last year's Nagano ran hot for the home crowd with three Japanese men breaking 2:12. The fastest one not to do it, Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), 5th in 2:12:04, is back, along with the Japanese stars of the last two years' Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathons, Hiroki Kadota (Team Kanebo) and Kazuya Ishida (Team Nishitetsu). Look also for surprise additions from the depths of the general division.
18th Nagano Marathon
click here for detailed elite field listing
times listed are 2013-2016 bests except where noted
Gladys Tejeda (Peru) - 2:28:12 (Rotterdam 2015)
Kaori Yoshida (Japan/Runners Pulse) - 2:28:43 (Saitama Int'l 2015)
Hellen Mugo (Kenya) - 2:32:00 (Kosice 2013)
Winfridah Kebaso (Kenya/Nittori) - 2:32:08 (Saitama Int'l 2015)
Shasho Insermu (Ethiopia) - 2:32:42 (Marrakesh 2016)
Yumiko Kinoshita (Japan/Second Wind AC) - 2:35:49 (Tokyo 2015)
Laban Mutai (Kenya) - 2:08:03 (Linz 2014)
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/NTN) - 2:08:50 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Jairus Chanchima (Kenya) - 2:10:37 (Xiamen Int'l 2013)
Hiroki Kadota (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:10:46 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Taiga Ito (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:11:15 (Tokyo 2013)
Kazuya Ishida (Japan/Nishitetsu) - 2:12:25 (Beppu-Oita 2016)
Fabiano Joseph (Tanzania) - 2:13:57 (Hofu 2015)
Hiro Tonegawa (Japan/Alps Tool) - 2:18:55 (Tokyo 2014)
Yuta Koyama (Japan/Kotohira Kogyo) - 2:20:43 (Nagano 2013)
Harry Summers (Australia) - 2:21:23 (Lake Biwa 2014)
© 2016 Brett Larner
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