Skip to main content

Mekuria and Tefera Bring Osaka Into the Game With Course Record Wins

The Fukuoka International Marathon is the traditional major player on Japan's December marathon calendar, but resting on traditional can only last so long. The Osaka Marathon, one of the world's ten largest mass-participation marathons, this year got into the elite game in a big way with its best-ever fields and a race date that put it head-to-head with Fukuoka.

Bidding to get into the IAAF/World Athletics road race label game, Osaka brought in enough quality internationals to keep its mostly amateur domestic field off the eight-deep podium. Aberu Mekuria (Ethiopia) dominated the women's race with a 2:26:29 course record, more than two minutes ahead of Kenyan mercenary runner-up Monica Jepkoech (Bahrain). 2017 Osaka winner Yumiko Kinoshita (Japan) ran the second-fastest time of her career, 2:35:16, but finished off the podium in 9th.

The men's race must have had the Fukuoka organizers sweating, as Ethiopian Asefa Tefera dropped a 2:07:47 course record for the win, like Mekuria winning by about two minutes. Tefera's time ended up being 37 seconds slower than Fukuoka winner El Mahjoub Dazza's, but while only one other man went sub-2:10 in Fukuoka, here three more did, Moroccans Mohamed El Aaraby and Mohamed Ziani, and Ethiopian Husen Muhammed Amin Esmael.

Osaka flexing its muscle to get into the elite end of Japanese marathoning seems like a natural move given the event's position as one of the world's biggest marathons. But where does it leave the other traditional elite Japanese races? If Osaka stays on this date it's hard to see it not hitting Fukuoka pretty hard. With a high-level women's race it's also hard not to see that impacting January's Osaka International Women's Marathon. And what about next weekend's Saitama International Marathon, where only one semi-elite Japanese woman is set to start?

The logical sequence of events would be to take the elite women's race out of Saitama, leaving it as a nice amateur mass-participation race, and put the elite race back in Tokyo where it belongs. September's MGC Race showed that Japan's rival TV broadcasters can cooperate to cover both the women's and men's races in a single marathon. Do the same for Tokyo and give its women's race the coverage it deserves and has never gotten. With December freed up, take the Osaka International Women's Marathon race and stage it as part of the Osaka Marathon. Move Fukuoka to Osaka International's date at the end of January, eliminating the problem with Japanese corporate league men not being able to run Fukuoka because of the New Year Ekiden four weeks later. Voila, all domestic calendar problems solved. All that remains then is how to keep them relevant against Valencia, Dubai, and the other races coming up all around.

Osaka Marathon

Osaka, 12/1/19

1. Aberu Mekuria (Ethiopia) - 2:26:29 - CR
2. Monica Jepkoech (Bahrain) - 2:28:37
3. Soud Kanbouchia (Morocco) - 2:28:56
4. Veronica Nyaruai (Kenya) - 2:29:03
5. Maryna Damantsevich (Belarus) - 2:31:58
6. Clementine Mukandanga (Rwanda) - 2:32:45
7. Joan Jepchirchir (Kenya) - 2:32:59
8. Olha Kotovska (Ukraine) - 2:33:55
9. Yumiko Kinoshita (Japan) - 2:35:16
10. Mitsuko Ino (Japan) - 2:39:04

1. Asefa Tefera (Ethiopia) - 2:07:47 - CR
2. Mohamed El Aaraby (Morocco) - 2:09:31
3. Mohamed Ziani (Morocco) - 2:09:44
4. Husen Muhammed Amin Esmael (Ethiopia) - 2:09:53
5. Duncan Maiyo (Kenya) - 2:11:43
6 Ketema Bekele Negasa (Ethiopia) - 2:12:09
7. Berhane Tsegay Tekle (Eritrea) - 2:12:44
8. Gizachew Hailu (Ethiopia) - 2:14:06

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Buy Me A Coffee


juddy said…
Wouldn't putting the elite women's race in Tokyo hurt Nagoya?
Brett Larner said…
Lake Biwa seems to get by being the week after Tokyo, so I'm sure it would work out. Some good Japanese women already run Tokyo every year and it doesn't seem to impact Nagoya. The issue is more that it's not counted as a national team selection race. Saitama is, but nobody runs there.
Ricardo Ruiz Garcia said…
Why not post all individual results so we can compare how we did against the rest of the field? Or against our corral or age group? That would make many of us happy and hoping to run this race next year! :)

--- Ricardo Ruiz Garcia, bib number F83831

Brett Larner said…
I don't have time to post 35,000 results here, sorry.

Most-Read This Week

61-Year-Old Mariko Yugeta Becomes First 60+ Woman to Go Sub-Three

61-year-old Mariko Yugeta of Saitama has become the first 60+ woman in history to run faster than three hours in the marathon. At the Nov. 3 Shimonoseki Kaikyo Marathon Yugeta ran 2:59:15 for 3rd place, smashing the 60+ world record of 3:02:50 by a wide margin. It was her 99th marathon and just shy of her PB of 2:58:05. When reporters visited her for an interview she was in the middle of a track session with a high school track team, doing a menu of 3000/2000/1000 m intervals in 11:23, 7:22 and 3:33. Yugeta said her daily routine includes 3 minutes standing on an inclined board every morning while brushing her teeth, and that she believes she can run 2:57.

source article:
translated and edited by Brett Larner

No Consensus Reached on Olympic Marathon Course - Impact on Athlete Preparations Inevitable

The IOC held an executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland on Dec. 4. With regard to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathons and race walks, which the IOC decreed last month must be moved to north as an effort to combat expected high temperatures, the IOC's executive board turned down a plan from the Tokyo organizing committee for the marathon to be held on a two-lap course through the Sapporo city center. The board did accept an out-and-back race walk course along the major street in front of Sapporo Station.

The schedule for the marathons was settled, with the women's marathon to be held Aug. 8 and the men's on Aug. 9. A start and finish point at Odori Park and a first lap consisting of 20 km were also finalized, but an agreement on the rest of the marathon course could not be reached. Tadashi Fukushima, head coach of the Fujitsu corporate team whose runner Shogo Nakamura won September's MGC Race Olympic marathon trials, called for a decision to be made as quickly a…