The second of Japan's four big February-March elite men's marathons, the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon has released its entry list for this year's 56th running on Feb. 11. Traditionally a developmental event for first-timers and early-career marathoners, Nobeoka has been the place where some of Japan's best, most notably Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) have gotten their start.
This year Ryoichi Matsuo of the locally-based national champion Asahi Kasei team will try to become only the second man in Nobeoka history to win it three years in a row. His main challenge will probably come from Masahiro Kawaguchi (Yakult), at 2:13:27 the only man in the field with a faster recent time than Matsuo's winning time of 2:13:36 from Noboeka last year.
But given Nobeoka's nature any of the relatively inexperienced marathoners in the field, particularly Shota Miyagami (Kyudenko), could get it right this time and break through to Matsuo's level or beyond. Among the debuting men, the Koichi Morishita-coached Shoya Okuno (Toyota Kyushu), former Waseda University star Shuhei Yamamoto (Toyota) and relative unknowns Yusei Tsutsumi (JFE Steel) and Nobuyuki Matsumoto (Aisan Kogyo) deserve attention as potential competitors up front.
In just its fourth year with a women's field, last year's winner Noriko Sato (First Dream AC) returns as the favorite and the chance to score Nobeoka's first back-to-back women's title. The Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon will be broadcast live regionally in Kyushu and nationally on delay starting at 11:00 p.m. on the 11th on BS Fuji.
56th Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon Elite FieldNobeoka, Miyazaki, 2/11/18
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best in last three years except where noted
Masahiro Kawaguchi (Yakult) - 2:13:27 (Beppu-Oita 2015)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:13:36 (Nobeoka 2017)
Sora Tsukada (SG Holdings) - 2:15:16 (Osaka 2016)
Shigeki Tsuji (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:15:19 (Gold Coast 2015)
Kazuya Deguchi (Asahi Kasei) - 2:18:02 (Kagoshima 2017)
Hiroki Kai (Raffine) - 2:18:17 (Tokyo 2017)
Yuya Taguchi (Toyota Boshoku) - 2:19:41 (Biwako 2015)
Masao Kizu (DeNA) - 2:20:00 (Shizuoka 2017)
Yu Chiba (Saitama T&F Assoc.) - 2:20:48 (Hokkaido 2015)
Shun Imamura (Press Kogyo) - 2:22:37 (Hakodate 2017)
Shota Miyagami (Kyudenko) - 2:25:16 (Nobeoka 2017)
Takumi Honda (Asahi Kasei) - 1:30:23 (Kumanichi 30 km 2014)
Shoya Okuno (Toyota Kyushu) - 1:31:49 (Kumanichi 30 km 2017)
Keisuke Tanaka (Fujitsu) - 1:32:42 (Kumanichi 30 km 2017)
Shuhei Yamamoto (Toyota) - 1:34:46 (Kumanichi 30 km 2017)
Yusei Tsutsumi (JFE Steel) - 1:02:38 (Nat'l Univ Half 2015)
Nobuyuki Matsumoto (Aisan Kogyo) - 1:02:52 (Nat'l Corp Half 2015)
Hikaru Tominaga (Mazda) - 1:03:34 (Marugame Half 2015)
Shota Yamazaki (Yakult) - 1:03:48 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2017)
Kazuki Nakajima (Asahi Kasei) - 1:04:05 (Tamana 2017)
Daiki Taguchi (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:04:51 (Marugame Half 2017)
Noriko Sato (FIrst Dream AC) - 2:48:51 (Hofu 2016)
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