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

Today's Race - Samuel Wanjiru Rocks the 2004 National High School Ekiden

Future Beijing Olympics marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru runs a still-standing Third Stage course record to lead Sendai Ikuei H.S. to the National High School Boys Ekiden Championships title. The team's winning time, a course record at the time, is still the second-fastest ever.

Today's Race - 2017 National High School Girls Ekiden

Sendai Ikuei H.S. and Nagano Higashi H.S. go after defending champ Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. at the 2017 National High School Girls Ekiden Championships.

Yamanashi Gakuin University Resumes Team Training, Limiting Group Size

Aiming to make a return to the Hakone Ekiden after missing out on qualifying for this year's race, on May 20 Yamanashi Gakuin University resumed team track training for the first time in a month and a half. Team practice has been suspended since Apr. 6 due to the coronavirus crisis, and since then it has been up to members to run and do strength training on their own.

Thirty athletes, about a third of the team roster, attended the May 20 session at Kawata Sports Park Field in Kofu. Another group trained separately at Midorigaoka Sports Park Field elsewhere in the city. To avoid too many people coming too close together, athletes started and ran at fixed time intervals between each other. Stretching was also done at staggered intervals, and strength training equipment was disinfected between each use.

May's Kanto Region University Track and Field Championships have been canceled, but, said ekiden team head coach Masaaki Iijima, "I want us to prepare so that we're read…