Skip to main content

Japan Announces Team for Valencia World Half Marathon Championships



On Mar. 6 the JAAF announced the Japanese women's and men's teams for the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships scheduled for Mar. 24 in Valencia, Spain. The women's team has few surprises, made up of the top two Japanese women from December's Sanyo Ladies Half Marathon, Miyuki Uehara (Daiichi Seimei) and Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal), the top Japanese women at February's Marugame Half and National Corporate Half Marathon, Kaori Morita (Panasonic) and Yuka Hori (Panasonic), and high-potential marathoner Honami Maeda (Tenmaya), winner of August's Hokkaido Marathon and 2nd at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon in 2:23:46.

Maeda's inclusion is clearly geared to give one of the people the JAAF views as potential 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon team material some international championships racing experience, and that decision making process is even more clearly at work in the men's team selection. #1-ranked man Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei), holder of a 1:00:50 best and 1:00:57 for 5th in New York last year, just ran the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon on Sunday, 20 days before the World Half. 5000 m national record holder Suguru Osako (NOP) has a 1:01:13 best and ran 2:07:19 in Fukuoka in December to qualify for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials.



Neither Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) nor Daisuke Uekado (Otsuka Seiyaku) has ever broken 1:03, making their selection baffling at first glance in light of Japan's incredible depth at the half marathon. But as recent 2:09 marathoners who have likewise qualified for the MGC Race, Sonoda in Beppu-Oita a month ago and Uekado is Fukuoka, the JAAF is correctly viewing the Valencia World Half as the only chance for either to get the opportunity to run in an international championships should they make the Tokyo Olympic team.

The only non-marathoner in the group is Kenta's twin brother, 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei). Kota's only serious half marathon to date was a conservative 1:02:00 at the National Corporate Half last month, but between that, his track credentials and the stellar sub-63 pacing job he did in Tokyo to take Yuta Shitara (Honda) to the marathon national record it's obvious Kota has room to improve. A lot of room.

Team rosters below. Times listed are the athlete's best in the last three years except where noted.

Women
Miyuki Uehara (Daiichi Seimei) - 1:09:13 (Sanyo Ladies Half 2017)
Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) - 1:09:14 (Sanyo Ladies Half 2017)
Kaori Morita (Panasonic) - 1:10:10 (Marugame Half 2018)
Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) - 1:10:22 (Sanyo Ladies Half 2017)
Yuka Hori (Panasonic) - 1:11:05 (National Corporate Half 2018)

Men
Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 1:00:57 (NYC Half 2017)
Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) - 1:01:13 (Marugame Half 2017)
Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei0 - 1:02:00 (National Corporate Half 2018)
Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) - 1:03:00 (Marugame Half 2016)
Daisuke Uekado (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:03:28 (Marugame Half 2016)

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Wins 7th-Straight Okinoshima 50 km

Running the Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon on his late father's home island of Oki for the eighth year in a row, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:52:55 to win it for the seventh straight time. Starting strong on the relatively flat first 10 km where he clocked 33:26, low-2:47 pace, Kawauchi slowed to just over 2:50 pace on the course's toughest hills between 10 and 30 km. A sub-2:50 was still in range at that point, but over the last 20 km he faded further to finish in the second-slowest of his Okinoshima wins.



The day before the race Kawauchi paced children in Okinoshima's kids' run. Following that he greeted participants and local supporters at an expo event where he was hailed onstage as the Boston Marathon winner. As per his usual routine, his next race will be the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Kipchirchir and Chebii Take on Three Gold Coast Winners

The men's race at Australia's Gold Coast Marathon is usually a Kenya-Japan head-to-head, Kenya taking six wins and Japan three in the last ten years. With not a single Ethiopian in the field for this year's 40th edition it looks set for it to happen yet again.

Sub-2:10 Kenyans Victor Kipchirchir, Douglas Chebii, Philip Sanga and the Japan-based Michael Githae will line up to take on three of the race's last four winners, 2017 champ Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), 2015-16 winner and course record holder Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) and 2013 champ and perpetual top three placer Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't). Give the advantage to team Kenya in this bout, but as Noguchi and Kawauchi have proven Gold Coast is a race where Japanese men are legit contenders.

With the window for getting qualifying times for next year's MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials starting to close, the powers that be in Japan have taken note of the success of Noguchi and Kawauchi on the Gold Coast…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …