Next weekend's Kobe Marathon is the latest Japanese race to acquire an IAAF road race label, something we'll probably be seeing a lot more of both in Japan and abroad with the IAAF's shift to a world ranking-based system that rewards performance in labeled races. The field this year perfectly follows the same boutique pattern as most other Japanese races' tiny international fields, one athlete each from the widest range of nationalities possible within a field of six to eight, plus some home soil people. With the IAAF dropping the nationality variety requirement starting in 2019 it'll be interesting to see how that impacts races like Kobe, Fukuoka International and Saitama International.
Last year's men's winner Khalil Lamciyeh of Morocco returns as the third-fastest man in the field behind newly-minted nationality transfer Weldu Negash of Norway and Kenyan Cosmas Kyeva. Saidi Juma Makula of Tanzania and Australian Liam Adams could be in range of the win, with Moroccan Hamzi Sahili and top-ranked Japanese man Sora Tsukada (SGH) a ways back in ability to date. A potential darkhorse is Jun Shinoto (Sanyo Tokushu Seiko), a past 3000 m steeplechase national champion and Hakone Ekiden stage record setter who made an unsuccessful marathon debut earlier this year in Beppu-Oita.
Mongolian national record holder Munkhzaya Bayartsogt and Eritrean national record holder Kokob Tesfagabriel lead the women's field, exactly the kind of interesting, outside-the-norm matchup that made the IAAF's nationality requirement so valuable. Moroccan Sanae Achahbar should be in it with them, with Nina Savina of Belarus, Kenyan Susan Jerotich and Australian Melanie Panayiotou rounding out the international contingent. Former Noritz runner Kanae Shimoyama (MD Homes) is the top-ranked Japanese woman with a 2:35:07 two years ago in Nagoya. Noriko Higuchi (Wacoal), the last Japanese woman to win the Tokyo Marathon back in 2011, will be running her first marathon since the spring of 2015.
8th Kobe Marathon Elite Field HighlightsKobe, Hyogo, 11/18/18
detailed filed listing
times listed are best in last 3 years except where noted
Weldu Negash (Norway) - 2:10:39 (7th, Daegu 2018)
Cosmas Kyeva (Kenya) - 2:11:45 (1st, Poznan 2018)
Khalil Lamciyeh (Morocco) - 2:11:58 (6th, Beppu-Oita 2017)
Saidi Juma Makula (Tanzania) - 2:12:01 (3rd, Daegu 2016)
Liam Adams (Australia) - 2:12:52 (9th, Berlin 2017)
Hamza Sahili (Morocco) - 2:13:46 (6th, Marrakesh 2018)
Sora Tsukada (Japan/SGH) - 2:15:16 (4th, Osaka 2016)
Jun Shinoto (Japan/Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 2:24:04 (33rd, Beppu-Oita 2018)
Munkhzaya Bayartsogt (Mongolia) - 2:31:12 (10th, Seoul Int'l 2018)
Kokob Tesfagabriel (Eritrea) - 2:31:45 (Wuhan 2018)
Sanae Achahbar (Morocco) - 2:32:36 (4th, Marrakesh 2017)
Nina Savina (Belarus) - 2:33:50 (12th, Euro Champs 2018)
Susan Jerotich (Kenya) - 2:34:18 (2nd, Pittsburgh 2018)
Kanae Shimoyama (Japan/MD Homes) - 2:35:07 (26th, Nagoya 2016)
Melanie Panayiotou (Australia) - 2:35:25 (19th, London 2017)
Noriko Higuchi (Japan/Wacoal) - 2:42:05 (10th, Vienna 2015)
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