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

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

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
           …

Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume

Known as the Civil Servant Runner, Saitama Prefectural Government employee Yuki Kawauchi's career record of 78 sub-2:20 marathons was officially recognized as the Guinness World Record at a ceremony in his hometown of Kuki, Saitama on Mar. 25.  Raised in Kuki, Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government after graduating from university. Running while working full-time as a civil servant, he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trial race.

Earlier this month on the 18th Kawauchi ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon, winning in 2:14:12. His 78th time running faster than 2 hours and 20 minutes, his achievement was certified as the official Guinness World Record. He actually broke the previous record on Jan. 1 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A. with his 76th sub-2:20 but followed up with two performances, one in February and the other last week, before Guinness could ratify the record.

The official recognition ceremony took place Mar. 2…