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Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifiers to Tune Up at Gold Coast and Hakodate

Just over 2 months out from Japan's 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathon trials, the Sept. 15 MGC Race, 13 of the 34 men and 9 of the 15 women to have qualified for the trials will be tuning up the first weekend of July.

In Australia, 7 male qualifiers will run the Gold Coast Marathon and Asics Half Marathon. Half marathon national record holder and former marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) leads the way in the marathon, a surprising step in what has so far been a solid recovery season from the injuries that held him back for most of last year following his 2:06:11 marathon national record. Yuma Hattori (Toyota), 2:07:27 for the win in Fukuoka last December, and Taku Fujimoto (Toyota), 2:07:57 two months earlier in Chicago, head the list in the half, where 3 of their Toyota teammates with sub-62 bests including Minato Oishi, the fastest Japanese man so far this year in the half marathon, are likewise entered.

3rd in the marathon last year on the Gold Coast, Jo Fukuda (Nishitetsu) is also opting for the half this time around, with 2019 Hakone Ekiden anchor stage winner Gaku Hoshi (Teikyo Univ.) making his international debut in the half with support from JRN. 2019 National Corporate Half Marathon champion Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku) isn't in for the MGC Race but will lead the small group of Japanese women in the half. More info on the Gold Coast Japanese fields here.

The MGC-qualified women have largely opted for Hokkaido, where 9 of the 15 qualifiers will run the Hakodate Half Marathon. Reia Iwade (Under Armour), 1:09:46 for the win at January's Osaka Half before her 2:23:52 breakthrough in Nagoya, tops the list, with competition from recent sub-70 women Honami Maeda (Tenmaya), Miyuki Uehara (Daiichi Seimei) and Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal). 6 male qualifiers are also set to run Hakodate. The top Japanese man at this year's Tokyo Marathon, Kensuke Horio (Toyota) is the fastest among them with a 1:01:57 at last fall's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai Half, but right behind him is Ryu Takaku (Yakult), 1:01:58 in Marugame in February before the 2:11:49 / 2:10:03 Tokyo/Hamburg double that got him into the MGC fold. Hakodate elite entry lists can be had here.

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Naoki Okamotoage: 35
sponsor: Chugoku Denryoku
graduated from: Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S., Meiji University

best time inside MGC window:
2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

PB: 2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

other PBs:
5000 m: 13:37.71 (2009) 10000 m: 28:05.84 (2011) half marathon: 1:02:16 (2009)

marathons inside MGC window (Aug. 1 2017 – April 30 2019)
DNF, 2019 Beppu-Oita Marathon
1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon, 2:11:29 – PB
DNF, 2018 Boston Marathon

other major results:
4th, 2019 Shibetsu Half Marathon, 1:03:53
2nd, 2019 New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage (22.4 km), 1:05:13
1st, 2018 Chugoku Corporate Ekiden Sixth Stage (19.0 km), 56:25 – CR
1st, 2018 Ome 30 km Road Race, 1:33:09
21st, 2017 Tokyo Marathon, 2:13:53

We’re picking Okamoto as our official dark horse of the men’s race. The second-oldest man in a field, Okamoto is a journeyman corporate leaguer who never broke 2:12 and whose PBs all came a decade ago. But, nearing the end of his career, over the last two years he has really come on…

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🥇8m40🥈8m32🥉8m23 htt…