Skip to main content

Saitama International Marathon Elite Field

With just over three weeks to go the Saitama International Marathon has released the elite field for its third running scheduled for Nov. 12, and it's a small one. A problematic event that carries the diminished legacy of the Tokyo International Women's Marathon and Yokohama International Women's Marathon, Saitama occupies a place in the national team selection process that should go to the far superior Tokyo Marathon women's race but remains out in the northwestern suburbs thanks to the sponsor and TV broadcast income it generates for the JAAF. But with a field like this, how much longer will it be able to generate any sponsor interest or income?

The move of the National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships from mid-December to late November, just two weeks after Saitama, means that not a single corporate league woman is entered in Saitama's elite field. Not one. The home crowd is represented by 22-year-old Reia Iwade (Dome), who quit the Noritz corporate team earlier this year to go it alone, and 36-year-old Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL), Japan's only athlete to have ever been suspended for EPO. Both will be in contention for next year's Asian Games team, and if either makes the top six and runs under 2:28:00 or top three under 2:29:00 she will qualify for the 2019 MGC Race, Japan's new Olympic Trials event.

The Olympic connection is sure to add some excitement, but although Iwade is one of the more high-potential young runners in Japan right now it's pretty clear the win will probably be going to last year's champion, the formerly Japan-based Filomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya). Cheyech ran a course record 2:23:18 to win by almost three minutes last year, and with the next-fastest woman in the field, Iwade, only having run as fast as a minute and a half behind that mark Cheyech has room to spare. Shitaye Habtebegrel (Ethiopia) is the other main foreign competition with a 2:25:36 in Dubai last year. Look also for another former Japan-based Kenyan, Philes Ongori, in a return to the marathon for the first time since 2014.

The elite field is a women-only event, but behind it is a mass-participation race that last year had over 13,000 finishers. Fronting that part of the race is local hero Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), who for the second time in his career will be taking on marathons on back-to-back weekends. A week earlier Kawauchi will run France's Nice-Cannes Marathon where he hopes to achieve his first sub-2:10 win outside Japan.

The Saitama International Marathon will be broadcast live nationwide. Check back closer to race date for more information of following it live and options for watching online.

3rd Saitama International Marathon Elite Field

Saitama, 11/12/17
click here for detailed field listing
times listed are best within last three years except where noted

Women
Filomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) - 2:21:11 (Paris 2017)
Reia Iwade (Japan/Dome) - 2:24:38 (Nagoya Women's 2016)
Shitaye Habtegebrel (Ethiopia) - 2:25:36 (Dubai 2016)
Philes Ongori (Kenya) - 2:26:59 (Yokoyama Women's 2014)
Kaori Yoshida (Japan/RxL) - 2:28:24 (Nagoya Women's 2017)
Monika Stefanowicz (Poland) - 2:28:26 (Hamburg 2016)
Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain) - 2:29:23 (London 2017)
Sinead Diver (Australia) - 2:31:37 (Nagoya Women's 2017)

Men
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:01 (Gold Coast 2016)

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

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…