On June 15 the JAAF announced the date and course for the Marathon Grand Championship Race, or MGC Race for short, its new almost-one-shot trials race that will determine at least two of the three members of its men's and women's marathon teams for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The MGC Race will be held 11 months prior to the Olympics on September 15, 2019. The winners of the MGC Race will be named to the 2020 team, with either the 2nd or 3rd placer also named to the team depending on whether either has broken a fast standard, 2:05:30 for men and 2:21:00 for women. The remaining top three placer will have to wait until March, 2020 to find out whether they will be included on the team or passed over in favor of someone who clears another fast standard in one of the big six domestic elite marathons in the winter of 2019-20.
The MGC Race course will closely follow the already announced Olympic course, the only key exception being a start and finish in the Jingu Gaien district nearby the Olympic Stadium construction site rather than in the stadium itself. All of Japan's main contenders for the team will have the chance to experience the downhill start, tour of central Tokyo and uphill finish in a championship race atmosphere prior to the Olympic Games, with the early date offering hope of temperatures still warm enough to approximate what they will have to face almost a year later. It should prove to be one of the biggest days in Japanese marathoning history. Let's hope the broadcast is available internationally.
© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved