Skip to main content

Sakamoto and Kawauchi Return to Zurich Marathon

by Brett Larner

Most of the running world will be focused on the London Marathon, where among others Japanese track and ekiden great Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) will be trying again to get the marathon right, but there's at least one other good race this weekend.  Last year Yoshiko Sakamoto (YWC), an unknown amateur runner and mother of three, seemed to come out of nowhere to win Switzerland's Zurich Marathon, with the popular Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) taking 2nd in what ended up being his fastest race of an injury-prone 2015.  This year both Sakamoto and Kawauchi return to Zurich for Sunday's race with support from JRN.

Sakamoto faces at least two strong rivals this year.  It has been a while since Kenyan-born Swede Isabellah Andersson's 2:23:41 PB in Dubai 2011 or even since she broke 2:30, but with a 2:30:02 in Tokyo in February she is still the best in the field.  A stroke against her: Andersson only joined the Zurich field after a DNF in Rotterdam earlier this month.  Katharina Heinig, daughter of German legend Katrin Dorre, is next on the list with a 2:33:56 best from Hamburg 2014 and will be trying to make the German Olympic team.  To do that she will need to beat Anna Hahner's 2:30:35 from Hannover two weeks ago.  Sakamoto, who pulled out of January's Osaka International Women's Marathon when her children came down with the flu and the Tokyo Marathon when she did the same, is seeded third and will have a tough time repeating.

Kawauchi ran Zurich last year still struggling with complications from an ankle sprain, finishing 2nd in 2:12:13.  This year he is fit, well-trained and enthusiastic about going for his first sub-2:10 win outside Japan.  Ethiopian Abere Belay is the only other athlete in the field to have broken 2:10 with a 2:08:18 in Dubai 2014, but since then he hasn't broken 2:12 in four attempts.  Kenyans Edwin Kiprop Korir and Titus Masai form the rest of the small front group, but the race looks like Kawauchi's to lose.  The forecast is not looking ideal for fast times; sometimes it snows in April, but wet or dry there's still a race to be run.

14th Zurich Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Zurich, Switzerland, 4/24/16
times listed are bests in last three years except where indicated

Women
Isabellah Andersson (Sweden) - 2:30:02 (Tokyo 2016)
Katharina Heinig (Germany) - 2:33:56 (Hamburg 2014)
Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/YWC)  2:36:29 (Osaka Women's 2015)
Jane Fardell (Australia) - 2:37:35 (Paris 2013)
Alemitu Bekele Aga (Belgium) - 2:39:26 (Ticino 2011)

Men
Abere Belay (Ethiopia) - 2:08:18 (Dubai 2014)
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:05 (Fukuoka Int'l 2013)
Edwin Kiprop Korir (Kenya) - 2:10:26 (Zurich 2013)
Titus Masai (Kenya) - 2:11:16 (Torino 2014)
Bizuneh Melaku Belachew (Ethiopia) - 2:13:10 (Mainz 2015)
Tesfamariam Solomon (Eritrea) - 2:14:51 (Berlin 2015)
Adrian Lehmann (Switzerland) - 2:15:08 (Berlin 2015)
Mohamednur Hamd (Eritrea) - 2:16:40 (Florence 2015)
Michael Ott (Switzerland) - 2:16:53 (Zurich 2013)
Tewodros Zewdu Asfaw (Ethiopia) - 2:17:02 (Poitiers 2013)
Wissem Hosni (Tunisia) - 2:17:59 (San Sebastian 2014)

text and photo © 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

soycobarde.com said…
Lebo Phalula ?? She ran one week ago in Enschede Marathon (2:33:48, her PB).
Kawauchi Style ;)
Brett Larner said…
My bad. She was the last version of the official entry list but has been taken off the current one.

Most-Read This Week

Yugeta Betters Own 60+ World Record

Women's 60+ marathon world record holder Mariko Yugeta , 62, bettered her 2:52:13 record Saturday at Tokyo's Itabashi Trial Marathon . Part of the Trial Marathon Series, a nationwide series of professionally-operated uncertified micro-races that has popped up during the coronavirus pandemic, the Itabashi Trial Marathon covered almost 17 laps of a flat 2.5 km course along the Arakawa River on Tokyo's northern border.  Yugeta went out at just under 4:00/km, going through halfway in 1:24:04 and making it to 30 km in 2:00:08 before her pace started to slip. Ultimately she ran 2:52:01, 1st among the 21 female finishers and 14th overall . "That's it for marathons for this season," she told JRN post-race. "I didn't make it to sub-2:50, but I'll be training hard to go for it at the Tokyo Marathon this fall." text and photo © 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

25-Year-Old Kyohei Hosoya Targeting Paris Olympics Marathon

It's a fast new world in Japanese men's marathoning, and one of its exciting new stars comes to it straight out of Kyushu. His name is Kyohei Hosoya  (25, Kurosaki Harima). In just his second marathon he ran 2:06:35 for 3rd at February's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon , ranking him at all-time Japanese #6. In college he was mostly sidelined with injury, but since joining the corporate leagues his abilities have come into full flower. Now, with the 2024 Paris Olympics in his sights, he's poised to make another great leap forward. When the race in Lake Biwa began Hosoya was just an unknown 25-year-old, but when he hit the finish line he'd inked his name on the list of top candidates for the Paris Olympics. What once was just a dream is now a realistic goal. "I'd had some vague hopes before about representing Japan," he said, "but now that feeling is burning bright."  Someone who has been involved with Hosoya's athletic career had often told hi

Sato Breaks 1500 m U18 National Record - Weekend Track Roundup

It was a busy weekend on the track across Japan. At Saturday's Kanaguri Memorial Meet  in Kumamoto, the biggest news came in the men's 1500 m where 17-year-old Keita Sato (Rakunan H.S.) ran 3:40.36, a new U18 national record, the 2nd-fastest ever by a Japanese high schooler, and 3rd-fastest-ever U20 mark. Sato took 4th after leading the first three laps, with two of the three people who finished ahead of him going under 3:40. Winner Kazuki Kawamura (Toenec) broke into the all-time Japanese top ten at 3:38.83 and Keisuke Morita (Komori Corp.) was 2nd in 3:39.37. Steeplechase specialist Kazuya Shiojiri  (Fujitsu) followed up his 10000 m win last month in Nobeoka with a 5000 m PB at Kanaguri, dropping a Kenyan trio led by Justus Kevasa  (Honda) for the win in 13:22.80. A total of thirteen people broke 13:40 across heats. Joan Kipkemoi  (Kyudenko) led Japan-based Africans to sweep the top five spots in the women's 5000 m in 15:30.45, with Ethiopian Burka Desta  (Denso) taki