Skip to main content

Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Preview



Things are buzzing in Japan right now in a way they haven't for a long, long time. Yuta Shitara's 2:06:11 national record last weekend in Tokyo, Hiroto Inoue joining him under 2:07, and a record-breaking group of seven other Japanese men at the 2:08 to 2:09 level have everyone believing. Believing that they can do it too. The first test of that belief comes Sunday at the last main marathon of the Japanese season, the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.

The hoop that made so many Japanese men jump so high last week was qualification for Japan's new 2020 Olympic trials, the MGC Race. Sub-2:08:30 and you're in. Sub-2:11:00 and in the top three Japanese? You're in. Sub-2:10 and in the top six Japanese? You're in too. As Kohei Ogino and Tadashi Isshiki, 7th and 8th Japanese in Tokyo in 2:09:36 and 2:09:43, found out, people are taking qualification seriously. Lake Biwa has had more editions with five Japanese men sub-2:10 than any other marathon, and with the quality of field, MGC qualification and the momentum of Tokyo behind them, it wouldn't be surprising to see other quality performances this Sunday end up with people joining Ogino and Isshiki on the sidelines.

At the front end there's also Project Exceed at work to give major cash bonuses to any Japanese men who go sub-2:08. Defending champ Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) and fellow 2:06 men Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) and Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) are there to spur the fastest Japanese men on, with a few wildcards including debut sub-61 half marathoners Jake Robertson (New Zealand) and Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) likely to be a part of the lead group. Warmer than usual temps may make it hard for a 2:06 race to materialize, but the best bet for a Japanese man to be in it at that pace is Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei), twin brother of 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama  and a sub-61 half marathoner doing his second marathon after an aggressive but ultimately unsuccessful 2:16:58 debut in Tokyo two years ago.

Proven marathoners among the Japanese men include 2:07:39 man Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu), 2017 Gold Coast Marathon winner Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta) and Murayama's teammates Takuya Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama. Yoshiki Takenouchi (NTT Nishi Nihon), the only man in the field to have already qualified for the MGC Race, will be trying to go sub-2:10 after just missing it in Fukuoka. Other potential factors include debuting 61-minute half marathoners Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) and Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) as well as second-time marathoners Shinobu Kubota (Toyota) and Keita Shitara (Hitachi Butsuryu).

Injuries, personal issues and a team transfer over the last two years have kept Shitara, twin brother of new national record holder Yuta, far back from his best, but while there's almost no chance he's anywhere near in shape to try to duplicate his brother's feat he has to be feeling motivated to cut a major chunk off his 2:28:29 debut in Fukuoka. With Robertson and Murayama also in the field it will be a rare meeting of half each of the world's three best sets of distance running twins.

NHK will broadcast the race live and commercial-free starting at 12:30 p.m. local time Sunday. The race will be streamed live on the NHK site, but as this is likely to only be available domestically it's worth trying mov3.co's NHK stream. JRN will also cover the race live on @JRNLive. Whatever the outcome, it won't take much for Lake Biwa to make 2018 the fastest in Japanese history: if one Japanese man runs 2:08:57 or better, two go under 2:09:20 or three under 2:09:25, the average of the ten fastest Japanese times this year will already be the country's fastest-ever. If the heat wave holds off it may end up another history-making weekend.

73rd Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field Highlights

Otsu, Shiga, 3/4/18
times listed are best within last 3 years except where noted
click here for complete field listing

Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) - 2:06:07 (Amsterdam 2016)
Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) - 2:06:40 (Seoul Int'l 2016)
Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) - 2:06:44 (Valencia 2017)
Albert Korir (Kenya) - 2:08:40 (Vienna 2017)
Takuya Noguchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:08:59 (Gold Coast 2017)
Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:09:27 (Beppu-Oita 2016)
Takuya Fukatsu (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:31 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Fumihiro Maruyama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:39 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Yoshiki Takenouchi (Japan/NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:10:01 (Fukuoka Int'l 2017)
Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:10:46 (Fukuoka Int'l 2017)
Taiga Ito (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:10:52 (Beppu-Oita 2017)
Daniele Meucci (Italy) - 2:10:56 (London World Champs 2017)
Masato Imai (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) - 2:11:02 (Tokyo 2017)
Shoya Osaki (Japan/Chudenko) - 2:11:03 (Gold Coast 2017)
Tadashi Suzuki (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:12:09 (Shizuoka 2017)
Yuji Iwata (Japan/MHPS) - 2:12:15 (Beppu-Oita 2017)
Cristhian Pacheco (Peru) - 2:12:16 (Rotterdam 2016)
Keisuke Tanaka (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:12:41 (Nobeoka 2018)
Shohei Kurata (Japan/GMO) - 2:13:16 (Hofu 2017)
Mohammed Zani (Morocco) - 2:13:40 (Guangzhou 2017)
Kenta Iinuma (Japan/SGH Group) - 2:13:43 (Fukuoka Int'l 2016)
Yuki Munakata (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:13:53 (Beppu-Oita 2016)
Samson Gebreyohannes (Eritrea) - 2:14:25 (Prague 2017)
Keita Baba (Japan/Honda) - 2:14:36 (Lake Biwa 2017)
Yohei Suzuki (Japan/Aisan Kogyo) - 2:14:56 (Ehime 2017)
Jo Fukuda (Japan/Nishitetsu) - 2:15:11 (Hokkaido 2017)
Junji Katakawa (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:15:19 (Shizuoka 2016)
Shuji Matsuo (Japan/Chudenko) - 2:15:22 (Lake Biwa 2017)
Takumi Kiyotani (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:15:31 (Lake Biwa 2015)
Ryohei Nishiyama (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 2:15:42 (Tokyo 2016)
Hidenori Nagai (Japan/DeNA) - 2:15:49 (Shizuoka 2016)
Sho Matsumoto (Japan/Nikkei Business) - 2:15:50 (Osaka 2016)
Tomoyuki Morita (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:15:57 (Berlin 2015)
Takuji Morimoto (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:16:22 (Lake Biwa 2015)
Kenta Kitazawa (Japan/Yachiyo Kogyo) - 2:16:52 (Hokkaido 2017)
Ryo Ishita (Japan/SDF Academy) - 2:16:57 (Nagano 2017)
Scott Bauhs (U.S.A.) - 2:23:03 (U.S.A. Olympic Trials 2016)

Second Time Lucky
Ryota Matoba (Japan/Komori Corp.) - 2:15:00 (Nobeoka 2015)
Shinobu Kubota (Japan/Toyota) - 2:15:48 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Kenta Murayama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:16:58 (Tokyo 2016)
Yuta Oikawa (Japan/YKK) - 2:23:09 (Lake Biwa 2017)
Keita Shitara (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:28:29 (Fukuoka Int'l 2017)

Debut
Jake Robertson (New Zealand) - 1:00:01 (Houston Half 2018)
Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) - 1:00:57 (Gifu Seiryu Half 2017)
Taku Fujimoto (Japan/Toyota) - 1:01:51 (Marugame 2016)
Shogo Nakamura (Japan/Fujitsu) - 1:01:53 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2016)
Yuta Takahashi (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:13 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Kenya Sonota (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:02:20 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Yuki Matsumura (Japan/Honda) - 1:02:46 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2014)
Daiji Kawai (Japan/Toenec) - 1:02:47 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2016)
Kyota Yabushita (Japan/Osaka Gas) - 1:02:56 (Marugame 2016)
Wataru Tochigi (Japan/Juntendo Univ.) - 1:03:00 (Marugame 2016)

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Weekend Overseas Japanese Results

Lost in the luminosity of Eliud Kipchoge's world record and Gladys Cherono's women's course record at the Berlin Marathon were a score of Japanese results there and elsewhere overseas, ranging from the sparkling to the dull. Cherono and 2nd and 3rd placers Ruti Aga and Tirunesh Dibaba all broke Mizuki Noguchi's Berlin Marathon course record of 2:19:12 which has stood since she set that national record mark in 2005.

A kilometer behind Dibaba, Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) followed up her 2:22:44 debut in Osaka in January with a 2:22:23 PB for 5th, making her just the fourth Japanese woman ever to break 2:23 twice in her career. 2:23:46 woman Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) ran 2:25:23 for 7th, beating Tenmaya teammate Rei Ohara whose 2:27:28 put her only 10th but qualified her for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, only the second athlete after 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) to qualify for the trials under the two-race average wildcard opt…

Running the 2020 Olympic Marathon Course Part Two - The Women's Marathon

Today marks two years until the women's marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. There's been a lot of concern about the 7:00 a.m. start time approved by the IOC two weeks ago as it means that athletes will be running under direct sunlight in temperatures in the low 30's and potentially high humidity. I went down to the Olympic Stadium site this morning and, starting at exactly 7:00 a.m., ran 30 km of the course to check for myself what kind of conditions the athletes will be facing.


If you're not familiar with Tokyo, take a look at the map to get a better idea of what I'm talking about. I ran from the stadium to the 20 km point and then back, cutting out the sections from 20 to 28 km and from 31 to 35 km which I'll do next week on the 9th, two years ahead of the men's marathon.
The bad news: The conditions were tough. With zero cloud cover and very little wind, at the time of the 7:00 a.m. start at the Olympic Stadium it was 31.1˚C with 68% humidity according…

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…