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Know Your Japanese Runners in Boston


The withdrawal of Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki), Japan's best championship marathoner of the modern era, from the Boston Marathon field with a stress fracture is a blow to what would have been the best Japanese contingent in Boston in decades.

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) leads the way, arriving in Boston off wins in his last four marathons:
  • 2:10:03, Hofu Yomiuri Marathon, 12/17/17
  • 2:18:59 CR, Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, 1/1/18
  • 2:11:46 CR, Kitakyushu Marathon, 2/18/18
  • 2:14:12, Wan Jin Shi Marathon, 3/18/18
Kawauchi hopes to at least equal Suguru Osako's top 3 placing in last year's Boston, his optimism growing as the weather forecast gets worse.

Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) runs for what was once Japan's most successful corporate team in the marathon, his best of 2:12:31 coming 6 years ago at Lake Biwa and his fastest recent time a 2:13:33 in Tokyo last year. Okamoto earned a place in Boston by winning February's tough and hilly Ome 30 km in 1:33:09.

A high-volume marathoner like Kawauchi, Kansuke Morihashi (Raffine) won January's Katsuta Marathon in 2:16:51 to earn an invite to Boston. A month later he followed up with a PB of 2:14:25 at the Tokyo Marathon, jogging the Seoul Marathon three weeks after that in a fun run effort.

Topping the women's side is another idiosyncratic high-volume marathoner, Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead). Yoshitomi won the hilly Katsuta Marathon in January in 2:33:56, the second-fastest winning time in event history, then came back a week later to smash the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon course record with a 2:33:00 win. A week after that she took 9th in the National Corporate Half Marathon Championships in 1:13:58. Two weeks later in Tokyo she ran 2:30:16 for 6th, cutting over a minute off her five-year-old PB. Three weeks after that, a 2:33:57 win in her hometown Saga Sakura Marathon.

Ome women's winner Maki Ashi (Kyudenko) rounds out the Japanese lineup in her marathon debut at age 24. A 1:11:12 half marathoner, Ashi ran 1:44:14 in Ome to seal up a trip to Boston. Interestingly, joining her in Boston as her coach is the just-retired Kazuhiro Maeda, a longtime rival of Kawauchi's who was part of the 2013 Moscow World Championships team alongside both Kawauchi and Nakamoto.

All-time Boston Marathon Japanese Men's Top Ten
  1. 2:09:27 - Toshihiko Seko, 1st, 1981
  2. 2:10:13 - Toshihiko Seko, 2nd, 1979
  3. 2:10:28 - Suguru Osako, 3rd, 2017
  4. 2:11:02 - Hiromi Taniguchi, 4th, 1993
  5. 2:11:32 - Kenjiro Jitsui, 6th, 2006
  6. 2:11:50 - Toshihiko Seko, 1st, 1987
  7. 2:13:15 - Takayuki Inubushi, 10th, 1998
  8. 2:13:40 - Tomoyuki Taniguchi, 5th, 1987
  9. 2:13:49 - Yoshiaki Unetani, 1st, 1969
  10. 2:13:55 - Akinori Kuramata, 11th, 1998
All-time Boston Marathon Japanese Women's Top Ten
  1. 2:24:11 - Reiko Tosa, 3rd, 2006
  2. 2:26:26 - Yoshiko Yamamoto, 2nd, 1992
  3. 2:26:39 - Yuko Arimori, 3rd, 1999
  4. 2:26:52 - Kiyoko Shimahara, 5th, 2006
  5. 2:29:24 - Nobuko Fujimura, 3rd, 1996
  6. 2:30:34 - Mitsuko Hirose, 8th, 1999
  7. 2:30:40 - Yurika Nakamura, 6th, 2010
  8. 2:31:12  - Junko Asari, 6th, 1997
  9. 2:31:31 - Kaori Tanabe, 10th, 2001
  10. 2:31:39 - Yoshiko Yamamoto, 6th, 1995
© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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