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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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