Saturday, October 8, 2016

Japanese Athletes at 2016 Chicago Marathon

by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter

Four Japanese men are scheduled to run tomorrow's Chicago Marathon, the site of the 2:06:16 Japanese national record set back in 2002 by Toshinari Takaoka.  Koji Gokaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) is running Chicago for the second time, having run 2:12:15 for 7th in his second career marathon back in 2011.  Since then he has run 2:11:43 in Frankfurt 2014 and 2:09:21 in Tokyo 2015.  His 2:10:58 at last year's Berlin Marathon was the fastest time outside Japan by a Japanese man the entire year.  Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) leads 2016 with a 2:09:01 at July's Gold Coast Airport Marathon; Gokaya ran that race as a pacemaker and at that point told JRN that he was aiming for 2:08 in Chicago.  Only nine Japanese man have ever run that fast on foreign soil, and only Takaoka and Toshihiko Seko have ever done it in Chicago.

Part of a dominant quartet while at Komazawa University, Takuya Fukatsu (Team Asahi Kasei) debuted in 2:11:48 in Nagano last year, following up with a 2:09:31 at Lake Biwa this spring while trying unsuccessfully to make the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team.  Chicago is his third career marathon apart from a turn as a pacer at the 2012 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.

Kazuya Ishida (Team Nishitetsu) won his marathon debut with a 2:11:57 at the 2012 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon, but in five of his six marathons since then he has run in the 2:17~2:23 range.  A 2:12:25 for 4th at Beppu-Oita in February was a minor return to form.

Fukatsu's teammate Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) is the most experienced of the quartet, having run 13 marathons to date in his career.  His best of 2:12:11 came while finishing 2nd at Nobeoka in 2014, returning there this year to win in 2:15:09.  His most recent marathon was a 2:22:43 in Hokkaido in late August.

76 Japanese men including Gokaya and Fukatsu have broken 2:10 in the marathon a total of 159 times.  Of those, only 18 have done it outside Japan a total of 23 times.  Can Gokaya and Fukatsu join the club?  History may be against them, but a repeat of last year's slower race in Chicago would play to their benefit.

Top 25 Japanese Men's Overseas Marathon Times
  1. 2:06:16 - Toshinari Takaoka, 3rd, Chicago 2002
  2. 2:06:57 - Takayuki Inubushi, 2nd, Berlin 1999
  3. 2:07:35 - Taisuke Kodama, 1st, Beijing 1986
  4. 2:07:40 - Hiromi Taniguchi, 2nd, Beijing 1988
  5. 2:07:50 - Toshinari Takaoka, 3rd, Chicago 2004
  6. 2:07:57 - Kunimitsu Ito, 2nd, Beijing 1986
  7. 2:08:14 - Yuki Kawauchi, 4th, Seoul 2013
  8. 2:08:21 - Takeyuki Nakayama, 1st, Seoul 1986
  9. 2:08:27 - Toshihiko Seko, 1st, Chicago 1986
  10. 2:08:46 - Muneyuki Ojima, 5th, Rotterdam 1999
  11. 2:09:01 - Yuki Kawauchi, 2nd, Gold Coast 2016
  12. 2:09:11 - Masaki Oya, 8th, Rotterdam 1997
  13. 2:09:16 - Atsushi Sato, 8th, London 2009
  14. 2:09:23 - Nozomi Saho, 5th, Rotterdam 1998
  15. 2:09:26 - Shigeru Aburuya, 5th, Paris 2003
  16. 2:09:26a - Toshihiko Seko, 1st, Boston 1981
  17. 2:09:32 - Shinichi Watanabe, 6th, Berlin 2004
  18. 2:09:34 - Arata Fujiwara, 1st, Ottawa 2010
  19. 2:09:35 - Noriaki Igarashi, 5th, Chicago 2001
  20. 2:09:36 - Yuki Kawauchi, 9th, Hamburg 2014
  21. 2:09:49 - Kazuhiro Matsuda, 6th, Berlin 2003
  22. 2:09:50 - Hiromi Taniguchi, 1st, London 1987
  23. 2:09:52 - Kurao Umeki, 7th, Berlin 2003
  24. 2:10:01 - Yuki Kawauchi, 1st, Gold Coast 2013
  25. 2:10:02 - Toshihiko Seko, 1st, London 1986

photo © 2011 Dr. Helmut Winter, all rights reserved
text and stats © 2016 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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