Skip to main content

30th Anniversary Hokkaido Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Always the signal that the fall marathon season is about to begin, the Hokkaido Marathon celebrates its 30th anniversary running this Sunday. The men's field features Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko), a 2:09:10 performer at the 2014 Tokyo Marathon but with little success since then, and Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group), a member of the 2012 London Olympics marathon squad with a 2:08:37 best from 2012. An interesting dark horse is the Barcelona Olympics silver medalist Koichi Morishita-coached 2:13 man Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu), winner of February's tough Ome 30 km and 2nd at last month's Shibetsu Half Marathon.  Something of an eyebrow raiser is Kenyan Cyrus Njui (SEV Sports), who underwent a six-month suspension after testing positive at last year's Hokkaido Marathon when he took cold medicine from a local pharmacist a few days before the race.  In today's environment it's hard to imagine many races inviting back someone who tested positive at the same race a year earlier, but Hokkaido's policy seems to be forgive and forget.

Underlining that policy is the number one seed in the women's race, Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL), Japan's sole public EPO bust after testing positive at the 2012 Honolulu Marathon.  The 2006 Hokkaido winner, Yoshida returned from her suspension stronger than ever, running a PB of 2:28:43 at last fall's inaugural Saitama International Marathon that positions her as the only sub-2:30 woman in the field.  Her best domestic competition is Aki Otagiri (Team Tenmaya) with a 2:30:24 best at last year's Nagoya Women's Marathon.  Japan-based Kenyan Winfridah Kebaso (Team Nitori) also looks to have potential to improve on her 2:32:08 best behind Yoshida in Saitama.  A late withdrawal with injury is Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei), a training partner of Rio Olympians Miyuki Uehara and Tomomi Tanaka and coached by 1991 World Championships silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita.  Beyond its invited elite field Hokkaido always features good talent in its general division, so watch for other men and women not listed below to factor into the action.

30th Hokkaido Marathon Elite Field
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/28/16
click here for complete field listing
all times listed are best in last three years

Men
Masanori Sakai (Kyudenko) - 2:09:10 (Tokyo 2014)
Cyrus Njui (Kenya/SEV Sports) - 2:09:35 (Tokyo 2014)
Ryo Yamamoto (SGH Group) - 2:10:59 (Vienna 2014)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (Nobeoka 2014)
Ryo Kiname (Mitsubishi HPS) - 2:12:48 (Beppu-Oita 2014)
Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) - 2:13:24 (Biwako 2014)
Kyohei Nishi (Kyudenko) - 2:18:37 (Nobeoka 2014)
Kazuya Deguchi (Asahi Kasei) - 2:19:28 (Biwako 2016)

Women
Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) - 2:28:43 (Saitama International 2015)
Aki Otagiri (Tenmaya) - 2:30:24 (Nagoya Women's 2015)
Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:31:02 (Kitakyushu 2014)
Yuko Mizuguchi (Denso) - 2:31:39 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Winfridah Kebaso (Kenya/Nitori) - 2:32:08 (Saitama International 2015)
Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:34:28 (Seoul International 2015)

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Cheboitibin Breaks Seko's Course Record at Ome 30 km

One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds.

Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history.

With the withdrawal of Fukuoka winner

Last Chance for Tokyo 2020? - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

With just under three weeks to go the organizers of the Mar. 10 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon's 74th running have finally released the elite field. For Japanese men it's the last chance - almost - to qualify for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, the last domestic race with up to six spots up for grabs for anyone under 2:11:00 or 2:10:00 and more for anyone else under 2:08:30 or averaging under 2:11:00 between Lake Biwa and another marathon in the last year and a half. The window on that last two-race option runs through April 30th so there will still be a few chances left, but realistically for most of the men at Lake Biwa this is it, all or nothing for a home soil Olympic team.

There's a good international field of twelve African-born runners of eight nationalities at the 2:06 to 2:09 level to help pull the Japanese men to hit those times. Last year's winner Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) is back, ranked 6th in a field led by 2:06 men Deribe…

Beppu-Oita Marathon to Review Staff Training After Interpreter Refers to African Athletes as "Chimpanzees"

On Feb. 14 the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon confirmed that a local woman in her fifties who served as an interpreter at this year's race had published a blog post in which she referred to the African athletes on whose behalf she had worked as "chimpanzees." The woman said she had no malicious or racist intent behind her comments, but a spokesperson for the organizers called her choice of words "inappropriate." Organizers plan to review their training and guidance procedures for all race management staff members.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon took place in the two cities on Feb. 3. According to the spokesperson, the blog to which the woman posted the comments is for members of a sports club to which she belongs to report on what they have been doing. On Feb. 10 she wrote about her work with the African athletes, posting it with public access so that anyone could read it. She described the struggle of talking to the African athletes, saying …