Skip to main content

Bekele, Kawauchi, Kwambai, Makau and Tsegay Headline Fukuoka Elite Field

by Brett Larner

The Dec. 4 Fukuoka International Marathon released the elite field for this year's 70th running today.  2014-15 winner Patrick Makau (Kenya) returns, looking to follow Frank Shorter and Toshihiko Seko as just the third man to win Fukuoka three years in a row.  Makau's main competition comes from 2015 World Championships silver medalist Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia), James Kwambai (Kenya) and Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea).  An interesting name that could represent an extra challenge if he shows the same renewed focus as his older brother Kenenisa is Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia).  Further back, Reid Coolsaet (Canada) has a shot at breaking the 2:10:09 Canadian national record set in Fukuoka in 1975 by Jerome Drayton.

The large Japan-based African contingent is headed by the debuting Paul Kuira (Kenya/Team Konica Minolta), who won the 2015 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon in 59:47 in his debut over the distance, 2012 Fukuoka winner Joseph Gitau (Kenya/JFE Steel), 2016 Osaka Marathon winner Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Monteroza), and 2016 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) who scored the win in his marathon debut.

Fukuoka factors into Japan's overcomplicated selection algebra for the 2017 Loondon World Championships marathon team.  Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) has the fastest time of 2016 by a Japanese man, 2:09:01 for 2nd at July's Gold Coast Airport Marathon, and comes to Fukuoka as the #1 domestic seed.  The only other Japanese man in the field to have broken 2:10 in the last three years is Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) with a 2:09:59 in Fukuoka 2014.  Chiharu Takada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) has gotten closer and closer and could be called Japan's best marathoner to have never broken 2:10, but beyond this trio it's hard to see other potential contenders for the London team.  Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) has run 2:08:00, but his best in the last three years is only 2:11:46.  A promising newcomer is independent Aritaka Kajiwara, a former Hakone Ekiden teammate of Kawauchi's who has run 2:18 marathons twice but shows potential for better with a sub-63 half and sub-hour 20 km to his name this year.

70th Fukuoka International Marathon Elite Field
Fukuoka, 12/4/16
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best within last 3 years except where noted

Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) - 2:06:51 (Daegu 2014)
James Kwambai (Kenya) - 2:07:38 (Seoul 2014)
Patrick Makau (Kenya) - 2:08:18 (Fukuoka Int'l 2015)
Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) - 2:08:18 (Warsaw 2015)
Henryk Szost (Poland) - 2:08:55 (Warsaw 2014)
Joseph Gitau (Kenya/JFE Steel) - 2:09:00 (Fukuoka Int'l 2013)
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:01 (Gold Coast 2016)
Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Monteroza) - 2:09:18 (Tokyo 2015)
Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:09:27 (Beppu-Oita 2016)
Yared Asmerom (Eritrea/SEISA) - 2:09:41 (Tokyo 2015)
Cuthbert Nyasango (Zimbabwe) - 2:09:52 (Prague 2014)
Tomoya Adachi (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:59 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Chiharu Takada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:03 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Reid Coolsaet (Canada) - 2:10:28 (Berlin 2015)
Paulo Paula (Brazil) - 2:11:02 (Fukuoka Int'l 2015)
Yoshiki Otsuka (Japan/Aichi Seiko) - 2:11:40 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:11:46 (Biwako 2015)
Noriaki Takahashi (Japan/DeNA) - 2:12:00 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Hiroki Yamagishi (Japan/GMO Athletes) - 2:12:27 (Tokyo 2016)
Dmytro Baranovskyy (Ukraine) - 2:12:40 (Warsaw 2014)
Ryo Ishita (Japan/SDF Academy) - 2:13:52 (Nobeoka 2014)
Bunta Kuroki (Japan/Yasukawa Denki) - 2:14:27 (Warsaw 2014)
Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:14:29 (Shizuoka 2016)
Sho Matsumoto (Japan/Nikkei Business Service) - 2:14:54 (Osaka 2014)
Kenta Iinuma (Japan/SGH Group) - 2:15:05 (Biwako 2014)
Saeki Makino (Japan/DNP Logistics) - 2:15:22 (Seoul 2015)
Tomoya Shirayanagi (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 2:15:56 (Shizuoka 2016)

Trying Again
Tariku Bekele (Ethiopia) - 1:01:39 (Great North Run Half Marathon 2014)
Aritaka Kajiwara (Japan/Atsugi T&F Assoc) - 1:02:45 (Takanezawa Half Marathon 2016)

Debut
Paul Kuira (Kenya/Konica Minolta) - 59:47 (Marugame Half Marathon 2015)
John Kariuki (Kenya/Hiramatsu Byoin) - 28:38.16 for 10000 m, Hokuren DC Abashiri 2016)

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Wins 7th-Straight Okinoshima 50 km

Running the Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on his late father's home island of Oki for the eighth year in a row, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:52:55 to win it for the seventh straight time. Starting strong on the relatively flat first 10 km where he clocked 33:26, low-2:47 pace, Kawauchi slowed to just over 2:50 pace on the course's toughest hills between 10 and 30 km. A sub-2:50 was still in range at that point, but over the last 20 km he faded further to finish in the second-slowest of his Okinoshima wins.



The day before the race Kawauchi paced children in Okinoshima's kids' run. Following that he greeted participants and local supporters at an expo event where he was hailed onstage as the Boston Marathon winner. As per his usual routine, his next race will be the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Kipchirchir and Chebii Take on Three Gold Coast Winners

The men's race at Australia's Gold Coast Marathon is usually a Kenya-Japan head-to-head, Kenya taking six wins and Japan three in the last ten years. With not a single Ethiopian in the field for this year's 40th edition it looks set for it to happen yet again.

Sub-2:10 Kenyans Victor Kipchirchir, Douglas Chebii, Philip Sanga and the Japan-based Michael Githae will line up to take on three of the race's last four winners, 2017 champ Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), 2015-16 winner and course record holder Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) and 2013 champ and perpetual top three placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't). Give the advantage to team Kenya in this bout, but as Noguchi and Kawauchi have proven Gold Coast is a race where Japanese men are legit contenders.

With the window for getting qualifying times for next year's MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials starting to close, the powers that be in Japan have taken note of the success of Noguchi and Kawauchi on the Gold Coast…

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
           …