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Fukushi, Murayama, Shitara and Yoroizaka Take On Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km (updated)

Six Japanese athletes will line up at Saturday's Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km road race in the Czech Republic. Rio Olympian, 2013 World Championships marathon bronze medalist and 5000 m and half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) is the lone Japanese woman in the race. Now 35, Fukushi has mostly taken it easy since Rio, her season bests just 33:09.26 for 10000 m on the track and 33:48 for 10 km on the road. Standoffish with Japanese media about her future plans, it remains to be seen how hard Fukushi will run in Prague.

Teammates at the 2017 national champion Asahi Kasei corporate team, Kenta Murayama and Tetsuya Yoroizaka lead the five Japanese men on the list. Murayama, the U18 national record holder for 10000 m on the track and twin brother of adult national record holder Kota Murayama, ran well in the spring with a 1:00:57 for 5th at March's United Airlines NYC Half but underperformed at May's Ottawa 10 km. Yoroizaka, who has the unlucky distinction of having broken both the 5000 m and 10000 m national records but being beaten by other Japanese runners in both races, comes to Prague at the tail end of a short spin on the late summer European track circuit. With the Japanese men's road 10 km national record standing at just 28:05 there's a possible scenario in which he could land as Mr. Silver for a third time. The pair's new Kenyan training partner at Asahi Kasei, defending champion Abraham Kipyatich, will also be back to add another dimension to the equation.

Rio Olympian Yuta Shitara (Honda) is a late addition to the field, doing Prague as a tuneup for the Berlin Marathon. Viewers may remember Shitara as the do-or-die marathon debutant at this year's Tokyo Marathon who went through halfway under under 62 minutes and still ended up with a sub-2:10. Along with Murayama and Yoroizaka, Shitara's addition reunites the three members of Japan's 2015 Beijing World Championships 10000 m squad.

JRN will be onsite in Prague throughout race weekend to cover the race live. Follow @JRNHeadlines for more.

text and Murayama photo © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
Fukushi photos © 2011 and 2013 Dr. Helmut Winter, all rights reserved
Shitara/Ritzenhein photo © 2012 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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