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Osaka Leads Weekend Action



Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon leads the way in Japanese road action this weekend. With qualification spots in the MGC Race 2020 Olympic Trials at stake for the home field there are three main questions:

  1. Can straight-arm specialist Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) duplicate her 2:21:36 debut in Nagoya last year after running badly at the London World Championships?
  2. Can Honami Maeda (Tenmaya), the only Japanese woman to have qualified for the MGC Race so far, run a fast marathon for real after conquering the heat to win August's Hokkaido Marathon in 2:28:48?
  3. What can last year's 10000 m national champion Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) do in her debut?
Eunice Jeptoo (Kenya) tops the international list with a 2:26:13 in Eindhoven last year, with the debuting Gotytom Gebreslase (Ethiopia) the wildcard, her best mark at distance a 49:56 at last year's Utica Boilermaker 15 km. 

Osaka will be broadcast live Sunday by Fuji TV starting at noon local time. A free live stream should be available here. For a detailed field listing click here. This year will also mark the 31st and final year that local heroes The Alfee have written and recording a theme song for Osaka, always a highlight of its broadcast.

Simultaneously with Osaka, the coed Osaka Half Marathon may sneak its way into the TV broadcast. If not, it's being streamed live here and on Youtube. Look for London World Champs men's 10th placer Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) in a tuneup run for April's Boston Marathon.

Also Sunday is the 66th running one of Japan's biggest marathons, the Katsuta Marathon. Every year top men and women from Katsuta end up at the Boston Marathon, Katsuta course record setter Shingo Igarashi (Josai Univ. Staff) going so far as to frontrun the first half of Boston in 2016 before suffering a stress fracture mid-race. Katsuta also features Japan's first fast road 10 km of the year.

In post-season ekiden action, a mix of central Japan corporate men's teams, universities and club teams will face off at the 81st running of the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden. Live splits will be available here

Northwest of Tokyo, more top club and university teams will race the 64th Okumusashi Ekiden. A regular at Okumusashi with the Saitama Prefectural Government, London World Championships men's marathon 9th placer Yuki Kawauchi will take a rare turn on the 9.9 km First Stage. This year Cambridge University will field an alumni team for the first time. With a 28:45.48 best for 10000 m from Stanford last year Matt Leach will face Kawauchi for Cambridge on the opening leg. JRN will be on-site supporting Cambridge and covering the race live.

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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