After an exciting head-to-head last year that saw them race each other to sub-2:10 PBs, Desmond Mokgobu (South Africa) and Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) return to the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. The pair face not only each other but recent sub-2:10 men Hicham Laqouahi (Morocco), Abdela Godana (Ethiopia), Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta), Daisuke Uekado (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku), Justus Kiprotich (Kenya), Takuya Fukatsu (Asahi Kasei) Kohei Ogino (Japan/Fujitsu) and Yihunilign Adane (Ethiopia) and sub-62 half marathoners Keijiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei), Charles Ndirangu (JFE Steel) and Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei), setting up a better-than-average pack by Beppu-Oita standards.
For the Japanese men Beppu-Oita counts toward qualification for the MGC Race, Japan's 2020 Olympic Trials. Sonoda and Uekado have already made it along with fellow entrants Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) and Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta), but for Ogino and others it will be just about their last chance. The basic rule is that anyone under 2:08:30 will qualify. The top Japanese finisher not already qualified will join the list of qualifiers if under 2:11:00, with up to five more joining the list if under 2:10:00.
There's also the option of qualifying via a two-race average under 2:11:00 within the qualifying window. In Ogino's case that means a 2:12:24 will be enough, and Ryo Hashimoto (GMO) also has the chance it make it that way by clearing 2:10:20. Japan's current #1 man in the 10000 m, sub-62 half marathoner Dairokuno will be making his debut alongside sub-61 teammate Mogi, and if either has a successful one he will be the first from three-time New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei's current roster to earn MGC qualification assuming Fukatsu or another teammate in Beppu-Oita doesn't get there first. If they or others miss out there's the consolation prize of consideration for the 2019 Doha World Championships team, pretty much an either-or situation relative to the MGC Race.
Beppu-Oita also has a small women's field. The heavy favorite is Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita), runner-up at last fall's Osaka Marathon and looking to break her 2:34:12 PB and hopefully the 2:33:00 CR set last year by Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead). Next-strongest is American Cate Barrett with a 2:43:40 on the aided California International Marathon course in December, but with Yamaguchi having tuned up for Beppu-Oita with a 2:42:39 training run effort at the Xiamen Marathon earlier this month it's clearly her race to lose.
The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon will be broadcast live nationwide starting at 11:50. Check back closer to race day for more info on following live.
68th Beppu-Oita Mainichi MarathonElite Field Highlights
Oita, Feb. 3, 2019
complete field listing
times listed are best within last 3 years except where noted
Haruka Yamaguchi (Japan/AC Kita) - 2:34:12 (Osaka 2018)
Cate Barrett (U.S.A.) - 2:43:40 (California Int'l 2018)
Mai Fujisawa (Japan/Sapporo Excel AC) - 2:46:33 (Nagoya Women's 2018)
Yuko Kusunose (Japan/Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:49:42 (Nagoya Women's 2018)
Hicham Laqouahi (Morocco) - 2:08:27 (Lisbon 2018)
Abdela Godana (Ethiopia) - 2:08:32 (Seoul 2018)
Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:09:12 (Tokyo 2017)
Daisuke Uekado (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:09:27 (Fukuoka Int'l 2017)
Justus Kiprotich (Kenya) - 2:09:28 (Muenster 2018)
Desmond Mokgobu (South Africa) - 2:09:31 (Beppu-Oita 2018)
Takuya Fukatsu (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:09:31 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Hayato Sonoda (Japan/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:09:34 (Beppu-Oita 2018)
Kohei Ogino (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:09:36 (Tokyo 2018)
Yihunilign Adane (Ethiopia) - 2:09:48 (Dubai 2016)
Ryo Hashimoto (Japan/GMO) - 2:10:19 (Gold Coast 2017)
Chiharu Takada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:10:43 (Gold Coast 2016) - withdrawn
Taiga Ito (Japan/Suzui Hamamatsu AC) - 2:10:52 (Beppu-Oita 2017)
Shoya Osaki (Japan/Chudenko) - 2:11:03 (Gold Coast 2017)
Naoki Okamoto (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:11:29 (Hokkaido 2018)
Tomohiro Tanigawa (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:12:02 (Hokkaido 2018) - wtihdrawn
Takashi Ichida (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:32 (Fukuoka Int'l 2018) - withdrawn
Hiroshi Ichida (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:14:42 (Nagano 2018)
Nao Kazami (Japan/Aisan Kogyo) - 2:17:23 (Fukuoka Int'l 2017)
Kento Otsu (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) - 2:18:13 (Beppu-Oita 2017)
Keijiro Mogi (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - debut - 1:00:56 (Marugame Half 2016)
Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/JFE Steel) - do-over - 1:01:00 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2016)
Shuho Dairokuno (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - debut - 1:01:32 (Marugame Half 2016)
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