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National Corporate Half Marathon Championships - Preview

by Brett Larner

The 2009 National Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships take place Mar. 15 in Yamaguchi. The top men's and women's finishers will be selected for the national team for this year's World Half Marathon Championships, while other high-placing runners will be sent to international partner races including the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Virginia, U.S.A. and the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow, Scotland. In both the men's and women's races, members of two major teams, Nissan and Oki, will be running their finals races in their club colors before the teams are disbanded at the end of the month.

Headlining the men's field is Asian record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku). Sato is in preparation for April's London Marathon. While he has had good results thus far this year, he appears to be different than he was before the Beijing Olympics marathon where he finished last. He has not shown his characteristic hard-edged sharpness either in his running or in interviews; whether this is because he is focusing everything into London or because he has lost something remains to be seen.

Several younger runners stand a chance of challenging Sato for at least the domestic win. Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) beat Sato a few weeks ago in the Himejijo 10-Miler, but a DNF in last week's Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet suggests he may be ailing. His teammate Bene Zama may also be up front, as may the winner of February's Ome Marathon 30 km road race, Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta). Yuko Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) should also be in the lead pack.

In the women's race the clear favorite is Kenyan Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren). Ongori ran the fastest time in the world last year, 1:07:57, but has already surpassed that mark this year with a 1:07:50 in last month's Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon. If anyone can defeat her it may be Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo), who beat Ongori by 37 seconds at last year's Jitsugyodan Half Marathon.

Among the domestic contenders, marathoner Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) and identical twins Hiroko and Yoko Miyauchi (Team Oki) may stand the best chance of competing with the Kenyans. Okunaga is preparing for the London Marathon, while the Miyauchis will be especially motivated by running their last race for Team Oki. Beijing Olympics marathoner Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) and 2008 Shanghai Half Marathon winner Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex) should also be up front, although Nakamura had a weak showing at the Fukuoka XC Meet. Beijing Olympics marathon alternate Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) is also running as she gets ready for the London Marathon. At last year's Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) showed that it is possible to beat Ongori and Cheyech, but the Japanese runners in this year's race would need a significant step up in their best times to compete.

The 2009 National Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships will be broadcast nationwide on TBS from 2:00 p.m. to 3:24 p.m. on Mar. 15. International viewers should be able to watch online through one of the sites listed here.

A listing of the major names in the field is available in Japanese through the race website. Click here for the men's field and here for the women's field.

2009 National Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships - Top Entrants
Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:00:25 - Asian Record
Tomo Tsubota (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:16
Yuko Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:01:53
Shigeru Aburuya (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:01:54
Hideaki Date (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:02:08
Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu) - 1:02:21
Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:02:26
Masaki Shimoju (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:35
Michinori Takano (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 1:02:46
Kosaku Hoshina (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:03:09
Bene Zama (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:03:12
Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:03:19
Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:03:41
Makoto Fukui (Team Fujitsu) - debut

Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) - 1:07:50
Danielle Filomena Cheyech (Team Uniqlo) - 1:09:06
Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Oki) - 1:09:54
Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) - 1:09:57
Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) - 1:10:03
Yoko Miyauchi (Team Oki) - 1:10:04
Megumi Seike (Team Sysmex) - 1:10:15
Mai Ito (Team Denso) - 1:11:11
Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya) - 1:12:05
Yoko Nishimi (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 1:12:40
Shoko Miyazaki (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 1:12:43
Chiaki Takagi (Team Starts) - debut

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Anonymous said…
Megumi Seike is Mizuki Noguchi teammate. Does she train with Noguchi? I think she's faster than Noguchi cause Noguchi is injured right now. Does noguchi gives her advice?

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