Skip to main content

Matsuo and Hattori Lead Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon's 55th Running

by Brett Larner

The Feb. 12 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon is one of Japan's main developmental races for men, not counting directly in national team selection but serving as a springboard to future success.  Much of the field is making its debut each year or looking for a step up after showing potential in Nagano, Hokkaido or Osaka.  Rio Olympian Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) got his start in Nobeoka with a win in 2015, and Nobeoka has seen 2:11 winning times three times in its 55-year history including twice in the last five years.

Last year's winner Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) returns as the top seed, the only man in the field to have broken 2:13 in the last three years.  If he wins he will be the first man since 1986 to win Nobeoka in back-to-back years. His main competition among those with experience comes from Sora Tsukada (Team SG Holdings), Junji Katakawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Yuji Murota (Team JFE Steel), all 2:15 in minor domestic races last year. Kenta Matsumoto (Team Toyota) is an outside contender after a failed marathon debut in Hokkaido last summer.

Among the first-timers, Shota Hattori (Team Honda) leads the way with a 1:01:25 half marathon best at the 2015 National Corporate Half Marathon. Dangerous when on but usually in off mode, Hattori has been training for his debut with teammate Yuta Shitara who will be debuting at the Tokyo Marathon two weeks later.  Toshiki Sadakata and Kenta Matsubara will both be debuting off recent 62-minute half marathons, Sadakata a member of the increasingly successful MHPS corporate team and Matsubara a teammate and training partner of Matsumoto at Toyota.

In honor of Nobeoka's 55th anniversary, local Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), the top Japanese finisher in the Rio Olympics men's marathon, will handle pacing duties in preparation for an expected return to March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  The Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon will be broadcast live locally starting at noon on Feb. 12, with a 90-minute highlight show broadcast nationally on BS Fuji that night at midnight.

55th Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon
Elite Field Highlights
Nobeoka, Miyazaki, 2/12/17
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best in last three years except where noted

Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (Nobeoka 2014)
Sora Tsukada (SG Holdings) - 2:15:16 (Osaka 2016)
Junji Katakawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:15:19 (Shizuoka 2016)
Yuji Murota (JFE Steel) - 2:15:41 (Hokkaido 2016)
Yosuke Chida (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:17:05 (Osaka 2016)
Daisuke Matsufuji (Kanebo) - 2:17:56 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Kenta Otani (JFE Steel) - 2:17:58 (Beppu-OIta 2015)
Masaki Hori (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:18:55 (Nagano 2014)
Toyoyuki Abe (NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:18:59 (Osaka 2016)
Yuya Taguchi (Toyota Boshoku) - 2:19:41 (Lake Biwa 2015)
Kenta Matsumoto (Toyota) - 2:22:42 (Hokkaido 2016)

Debut
Shota Hattori (Honda) - 1:01:25 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Toshiki Sadakata (MHPS) - 1:02:40 (Marugame Half 2016)
Kenta Matsubara (Toyota) - 1:02:50 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Masahito Sumimoto (Mazda) - 1:03:13 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Shota Miyagami (Kyudenko) - 1:03:21 (Ageo City Half 2015)
Naoki Nishio (Chudenko) - 1:03:23 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Tomohiro Shiiya (Toyota Boshoku) - 1:03:47 (Marugame Half 2016)
Shohei Kurata (GMO Athletes) - 1:03:53 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Koji Kaneko (Kurosaki Harima) - 1:04:20 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Jun Shinoto (Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 1:04:36 (Tamana Half 2014)
Takato Koitabashi (Konica Minolta) - 1:04:45 (Marugame Half 2015)
Yuma Mori (SG Holdings) - 1:04:56 (Shibetsu Half 2014)

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…

Osaka Marathon Elite Field

One of the world's ten biggest marathons, in its six runnings to date the Osaka Marathon has continued to avoid the addition of a world-class elite field of the same caliber as at equivalently-sized races like Tokyo, Berlin and Boston. In place of doling out cash to pros, Osaka's women's field has developed into a sort of national championship race for amateur women.

In the field this year are six, probably all six, of the amateur Japan women to have broken 2:40 in the last three years. Last year's top three, Yoshiko Sakamoto (F.O.R.), Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) and Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) lead the way at the 2:36 +/- level, with a second trio of Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo), Mitsuko Ino (R2 Nishin Nihon) and Chika Tawara (RxL) all around the 2:39 level.

Last year's winner Sakamoto and 3rd placer Yoshimatsu squared off in September at Germany's Volksbank Muenster Marathon, Yoshimatsu tying Sakamoto's Osaka winning time of 2:36:02 to take 3rd over …