Skip to main content

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 two minutes ahead of Sakamoto. Kinoshita, who spent most of the first half of the year recovering from injury, won the first running of the Matsumoto Marathon in early October as a tuneup for Osaka. The only one of the top six still in her 20s, Imada looks like the biggest threat to the front group as she continues to develop as a marathoner.

The men's race features three Eritreans, Kaleab Ghilagabr the heavy favorite to win with a 2:12:22 best in Riga two years ago. Yuma Morii (SGH Group) is the only Japanese man in the field to have broken 2:20 in the last three years, but with a 2:18:55 best there's not much chance he'll be in competition with Ghilagabr. #3-ranked Satoru Kasuya (Toyota Boshoku) ran 2:11:17 in 2011 but was later diagnosed with a brain tumor which proved nearly fatal. Still on the comeback, his recent best is only 2:20:38 in Tokyo last year. 2016 100 km world champion Hideaki Yamauchi (Japan/Hamamatsu Hotonics) and interesting independent Hideyuki Ikegami (Japan/Kyoto T&F Assoc.) are also in the field.

7th Osaka Marathon Elite Field
Osaka, 11/26/17
click here for field announcement
times listed are best in last three years except where noted

Women
Hisae Yoshimatsu (Japan/Shunan City Hall) - 2:35:46 (Hofu 2015)
Yumiko Kinoshita (Japan/SWAC) - 2:35:49 (Tokyo 2015)
Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/F.O.R.) - 2:36:02 (Osaka 2016)
Marie Imada (Japan/Iwatani Sangyo) - 2:38:51 (Kitakyushu 2017)
Mistuko Ino (Japan/R2 Nishi Nihon) - 2:39:07 (Tokushima 2017)
Chika Tawara (Japan/RxL) - 2:39:44 (Osaka 2015)
Haruka Yamaguchi (Japan/AC Kita) - 2:40:31 (Beppu-Oita 2017)
Azusa Nojiri (Japan/Raffine) - 2:42:16 (Osaka Int'l 2015)
Felista Wanjugu (Kenya) - 2:44:00 (Zhengzhou 2016)

Men
Kaleab Ghilagabr (Eritrea) - 2:12:22 (Riga 2015)
Yuma Morii (Japan/SGH Group) - 2:18:55 (Nobeoka 2017)
Satoru Kasuya (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 2:20:38 (Tokyo 2016)
Tesfamariam Gashazghi (Eritrea) - 2:20:57 (Asmara 2017)
Hideaki Yamauchi (Japan/Hamamatsu Hotonics) - 2:22:48 (Shizuoka 2016)
Kota Shinjo (Japan/NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:22:56 (Hokkaido 2016)
Fikadu Kibreab (Eritrea) - 2:23:25 (Asmara 2017)
Tadashi Horikoshi (Japan/NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:27:42 (London IPC 2015)
Hideyuki Ikegami (Japan/Kyoto T&F Assoc.) - 2:30:15 (Hannover 2017)

text and photo © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Metts said…
Its good to see a large marathon that doesn't focus on the EA elites. It seems these days so many marathons are dominated by that group. Hope Osaka can keep its focus on what is does best now. The reason I love Japan and marathons is the large number of non elites that this race attracts.

Most-Read This Week

Cheboitibin Breaks Seko's Course Record at Ome 30 km

One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds.

Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history.

With the withdrawal of Fukuoka winner

Beppu-Oita Marathon to Review Staff Training After Interpreter Refers to African Athletes as "Chimpanzees"

On Feb. 14 the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon confirmed that a local woman in her fifties who served as an interpreter at this year's race had published a blog post in which she referred to the African athletes on whose behalf she had worked as "chimpanzees." The woman said she had no malicious or racist intent behind her comments, but a spokesperson for the organizers called her choice of words "inappropriate." Organizers plan to review their training and guidance procedures for all race management staff members.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon took place in the two cities on Feb. 3. According to the spokesperson, the blog to which the woman posted the comments is for members of a sports club to which she belongs to report on what they have been doing. On Feb. 10 she wrote about her work with the African athletes, posting it with public access so that anyone could read it. She described the struggle of talking to the African athletes, saying …

Japan Names National Team for 23rd Asian Athletics Championships

Japan has named a team featuring ten individual medalists from the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games to get an early taste of this year's World Championships  at April's Doha Asian Athletics Championships. Along with its gold medal-winning men's 4x100 m team, standouts include Jakarta gold medalists Yuki Koike (Sumitomo Denko) in the men's 200 m, Seito Yamamoto (Toyota) in the men's pole vault and Keisuke Ushiro (Kokushin Univ. AC) in the decathlon.

The women's long distance roster is strong, led by 2018 World U20 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Tanaka (ND28 AC) in the 5000 m and the resurgent Hitomi Niiya (Nike Tokyo TC) in the 10000 m, while the most interesting name among the men is Jakarta 3000 m steeplechase bronze medalist Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.).
23rd Asian Athletics ChampionshipsJapanese National Team
Doha, Qatar, Apr. 21-24, 2019
complete team listing
underlined athletes are 2018 Asian Games medalists

Women
Sprints
Chisato Fukushima (Seiko) - 100…