Skip to main content

Ngandu and Yimam Lead Osaka Marathon Fields

by Brett Larner

The Osaka Marathon is something of an oddity.  The progeny of the post-Tokyo Marathon mass participation running boom, in its fifth running last year Osaka had nearly 30,000 finishers to rank as the 7th-largest marathon worldwide in 2015.  But along with the United States' Marine Corps Marathon it was one of only two races in the top ten without an IAAF label, an indication that the JAAF has not positioned it as part of Japan's crowded elite race calendar.  And yet, Osaka typically has an invited elite field good enough for at least IAAF bronze medal status if it wanted it, good enough that it has yet to see a Japanese winner male or female.  There's something of an indication there of the tension between tradition and modernity in today's Japanese distance running world, neither purely elite nor purely mass participation.

Whatever the organizers' intentions, Sunday's race features good fields on both the men's and women's sides with six of last year's top seven men and four of last year's top five women returning.  Defending men's champ Daniel Kosgei (Kenya) is back, facing 2012 winner Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/NTN) and a tough challenge from Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Monteroza).  Ngandu, with a 2:09:18 best from Tokyo last year, is fresh off a third win at the Takashimadaira 20 km and looks like the favorite.  Last year's runner-up Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) is the top-ranked Japanese man, but Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Team Nissin Shokuhin) is a promising first-timer who could challenge Ito for the top Japanese position.

Last year's women's runner-up Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) is also back with a 2:35:46 course record win at the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon under her belt in the interim.  Her strongest competition is Nurit Yimam (Ethiopia), but there's potential for Remi Sano (Team Nitori), a former 2:23 runner making a comeback after facing cancer, to step back up to the elite level.  2015 Zurich Marathon winner Yoshiko Sakamoto (YWC) will run her first domestic marathon of 2016 in Osaka after good runs at June's Jilin Marathon and September's Muenster Marathon with support from JRN.

6th Osaka Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Osaka, 10/30/16
click here for complete elite field listing
times listed are best within last three years except where noted

Men
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/NTN) - 2:08:50 (Fukuoka Int'l 2014)
Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya/Monteroza) - 2:09:18 (Tokyo 2015)
Daniel Kosgei (Kenya) - 2:10:13 (Castellon 2014)
Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:12:04 (Nagano 2015)
Hiroki Yamagishi (GMO Athletes) - 2:12:27 (Tokyo 2016)
Yasuyuki Nakamura (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:13:46 (Tokyo 2016)
Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business Service) - 2:14:54 (Osaka 2014)
Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (Nissin Shokuhin) - debut - 1:03:15 (Marugame Half 2015)

Women
Remi Sano (Nitori) - 2:33:24 (London 2013)
Nurit Yimam (Ethiopia) - 2:33:44 (Rabat 2015)
Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) - 2:35:46 (Hofu 2015)
Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) - 2:35:49 (Tokyo 2015)
Yoshiko Sakamoto (YWC) - 2:36:29 (Osaka Int'l 2015)
Chika Tawara (RxL) - 2:39:44 (Osaka 2015)
Mayumi Uchiyama (Nitori) - 2:39:54 (Tokyo 2015)

©2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

CK said…
Interesting comment re possible tensions - once again your interpretation is one to ponder...
And clearly there is no shortage of very good Kenyans looking for prize and appearance money in this region: I just received info that the Gyeongju Marathon in Korea 16 Oct was won in 2:06:58 with first 5 (all KEN) sub 2:09. And then Chuncheon Marathon in Korea on 23 Oct was won by another Kenyan in 2:07:21. The top Koreans in each of these ran 2:19 (11th and 9th in respective races), so the elite Kenyans were presumably chasing time bonuses too.

Most-Read This Week

Asian Decathlon Champion Ushiro Cut From Doha Team After JAAF Guaranteed Him Spot Three Months Ago

On Sept. 17 it was learned that men's decathlon national champion Keisuke Ushiro (33, Kokushikan Club) has had his guaranteed spot on the Japanese national team for the Doha World Championships later this month eliminated. Ushiro won the gold medal at April's Doha Asian Championships, then won June's National Championships.

Under their published regulations for national representation in Doha, the JAAF guaranteed him a spot on the World Championships team for these accomplishments. But according to an involved party, IAAF regulations stipulate that the participation of area champions in certain events is dependent upon approval of the relevant technical delegate, and this appears to be the case in this instance. Ushiro has not cleared the World Championships qualification standard.

Ushiro did not attend the official Doha national team sendoff event held the same day in Tokyo. No explanation of the cancellation of his place on the team was offered to attendees at the event…

Ushiro Allowed to Compete at World Championships

At one point "misselected" by the JAAF to represent Japan at the World Championships beginning Sept. 27 in Doha, Qatar, Asian decathlon champion Keisuke Ushiro (33, Kokushikan Club) has been allowed to compete. The JAAF made the announcement on Sept. 20 that Ushiro was one of five athletes being added to Japan's roster. On his Twitter account Ushiro wrote, "I'm sorry to have made so many people worry about this, but I'm happy to say that today I got word that I'll be able to go to the World Championships. I'll do everything I can to be ready so I can get as close as I can to realizing my dream of medaling. Thank you all for your support."

As the 2019 Asian Championships gold medalist and 2019 national champion, the JAAF announced Ushiro as a member of the Doha team in June. But on Sept. 17 the IAAF informed the JAAF that Ushiro would not be allowed to compete due to not having cleared the qualification standard. The situation forced JAAF execut…

JAAF Executive Asaba on Mishandling of Ushiro's World Championships Team Nomination: "We Were Naive. The Level of Our Organization is Low"

At a Tokyo-area press conference on Sept 18, JAAF executive Kazunori Asaba explained the circumstances surrounding decathlon champion Keisuke Ushiro (Kokushikan Club) having his place on the Doha World Championships team cut. Ushiro had not cleared the World Championships qualification standard of 8200 points, but in April he won the gold medal at the Asian Championships. It was assumed that as area champion he would be qualified to participate in the World Championships, and when he won June's National Championships the JAAF told him he would be on the Worlds team.

Regarding the area champion's qualification for the World Championships, the IAAF states, "Area champions in individual events held at the World Championships automatically qualify regardless of whether they have achieved the qualification standard. This is not applicable to the 10000 m, 3000 m steeplechase, combined events, field events or road events, in which their participation subject to the approval of …