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Japan’s Marathon Season Wraps at Sunday’s Nagoya Women’s Marathon - Preview

Japan’s domestic elite marathon season wraps up Sunday with the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, the final race in the first season of qualification for the MGC Race, Japan’s new 2020 Olympic trials marathon to be held in late 2019. In its first season the MGC Race has succeeded in unifying Japan’s disparate national team selection races into what feels like an actual series, one that fans have gotten excited about and which has, at least on the men’s side, driven performances to a higher level. As of right now, thirteen Japanese men have met the MGC Race’s strict qualification criteria, six of them at the Tokyo Marathon alone. Heading into Nagoya only three women have qualified. Will we see another rush of qualifiers this weekend?

On paper it could happen. Since its rebranding as the world’s largest women-only marathon, Nagoya has consistently produced among the best depth-at-quality in the world, its course, weather and fields conducive to seeing a lot of people running fast times. In theory there’s no limit to the number of Japanese women who can qualify for the MGC Race if they run under 2:24:00, but realistically there are six spots up for grabs, three for the first three Japanese women if under 2:28:00 and three more if the next three Japanese women are under 2:27:00. There are enough good Japanese women in the field this year to see all six spots go, and enough foreign talent to make sure it’s a race.

At its front end the international field is almost as good as in Tokyo. Sub-2:21 women Lucy Kabuu (Kenya) and Valary Jemeli (Kenya), Saitama International winner Flomena Cheych Daniel (Kenya) and 2:24 Ethiopian Meskerem Assefa lead the way, Jemeli as the likely favorite, and all of them are perfectly positioned to drive the top Japanese women to the kinds of times the JAAF wants to see. Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu), Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) and Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) have all run 2:22~23 in Nagoya in the last few years, with Reia Iwade (Dome) just behind them with a 2:24:38 two years ago. All four are contenders for the first three Japanese spots, with some potential competition from debuting track star Hanami Sekine (Japan Post).

Four other Japanese women on the list, Shiho Takechi (Yamada Denki), Hanae Tanaka (Shiseido), Michi Numata (Toyota Jidoshokki) and Miharu Shimokado (Nitori), have all cleared 2:28 recently, and with Misaki Kato (Kyudenko) having run just over 2:28 in a time trial effort at December’s Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and half marathon specialists Yomogi Akasaka (Meijo Univ.) and Mizuki Tanimoto (Tenmaya) making their debuts it could be an exceptionally deep race driven by the battle to pick up the last few MGC spots.

Nagoya will be broadcast live on Fuji TV starting at 9:00 a.m. local time Sunday. The best bet for following the race live from overseas is a usually reliable live stream here.

Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field Highlights

Nagoya, 3/11/18
times listed are best in last three years except where noted
click here for complete field listing

Lucy Kabuu (Kenya) - 2:20:21 (Dubai 2015)
Valary Jemeli (Kenya) - 2:20:53 (Berin '17)
Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) - 2:21:22 (Paris 2017)
Sairi Maeda (Japan/Daihatsu) - 2:22:48 (Nagoya 2015)
Rei Ohara (Japan/Tenmaya) - 2:23:20 (Nagoya 2016)
Mao Kiyota (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:23:47 (Nagoya 2017)
Meskerem Assefa (Ethiopia) - 2:24:18 (Rotterdam 2017)
Reia Iwade (Japan/Dome) - 2:24:38 (Nagoya 2016)
Shiho Takechi (Japan/Yamada Denki) - 2:25:29 (Nagoya 2016)
Hanae Tanaka (Japan/Shiseido) - 2:26:19 (Osaka Int'l 2017)
Michi Numata (Japan/Toyota Jidoshokki) - 2:27:27 (Nagoya 2016)
Merima Mohammed (Bahrain) - 2:27:49 (Frankfurt 2017)
Miharu Shimokado (Japan/Nitori) - 2:27:54 (Nagoya 2017)
Misaki Kato (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:28:12 (Hofu 2017)
Karolina Nadolska (Poland) - 2:28:12 (Lodz 2014)
Keiko Nogami (Japan/Juhachi Ginko) - 2:28:19 (Nagoya 2015)
Kaori Yoshida (Japan/RxL) - 2:28:24 (Nagoya 2017)
Sara Dossena (Italy) - 2:29:39 (New York 2017)
Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Japan/Noritz) - 2:31:33 (Riga 2017)
Hiroko Miyauchi (Japan/Hokuren) - 2:32:40 (Osaka Int'l 2016)
Yuko Mizuguchi (Japan/Denso) - 2:33:20 (Nagoya 2016)
Mei Matsuyama (Japan/Noritz) - 2:34:35 (Nagoya 2016)
Sakie Arai (Japan/Higo Ginko) - 2:34:40 (Osaka Int'l 2017)
Yoko Miyauchi (Japan/Hokuren) - 2:35:09 (Nagoya 2016)
Ayano Ikemitsu (Japan/Kagoshima Ginko) - 2:36:18 (Osaka Int'l 2018)
Yurie Doi (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:36:28 (Hokkaido 2017)
Mayumi Fujita (Japan/Nagasaki T&F Assoc.) - 2:36:53 (Nagoya 2016)

Hanami Sekine (Japan/Japan Post) - 31:22.92 (track 10000 m, 2016)
Yomogi Akasaka (Japan/Meijo Univ.) - 1:11:41 (Marugame Half 2016)
Mizuki Tanimoto (Japan/Tenmaya) - 1:12:17 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2017)
Erika Ikeda (Japan/Higo Ginko) - 1:12:38 (Sanyo Women's Half 2015)

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved


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