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Fukuoka International Marathon Preview


All good things must pass. Tomorrow is the final running of the Fukuoka International Marathon, Japan's most iconic marathon and last remaining elite men-only race. On paper it has a field to rival the one that broke records at February's final running of the Lake Biwa Marathon, and with excellent conditions on the forecast and the attitude on display at the pre-race press conference it looks like Fukuoka might get the sendoff it deserves. 

Former half marathon and marathon NR holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) was confident and mature in his answers at the presser, saying his training has been the same as in previous marathons, that he is in Fukuoka to win, and that he plans to run a controlled first half and then push the second. Shitara also announced a sponsor change from Nike, which which he's had a relationship since college, to Puma. Shitara's twin brother Keita Shitara (Hitachi Butsuryu), 2:12:13 in Tokyo last year, is also in the race, creating the likelihood that fans will get to see  them running together for at least part of the way.

The current fastest man in the field, Kyohei Hosoya (Kurosaki Harima), 2:06:35 at Lake Biwa, looked and sounded strong, echoing Shitara in saying he is here to win, whatever time that takes, and saying that he hopes to be on Japan's team for the Oregon World Championships next summer. Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei), 2:07:12 at Lake Biwa, also had a glow of onness, saying he had built on his training and is in shape to win.

Ryu Takaku (Yaklut), 2:06:45 in Tokyo last year, was one of the few to mention a specific time goal, saying his targets were to beat his college teammate Shitara and Shitara's old NR of 2:06:11. Shohei Otsuka (Kyudenko), 2:07:38 in Fukuoka last year, said he is aiming for 2:06:50, having done exactly the same training that worked for him last year.

So it sounds like things should be on up front and that there's a good chance we should at least see a shot at the fastest-ever Japanese time on the course, Atsushi Fujita"s 2:06:51 from 2000. Lots of fast guys like Daisuke Uekado (Otsuka Seiyaku), 2:06:54 in Tokyo just behind Takaku, and Toshiki Sadakata (Mitsubishi Juko), 2:07:05 in the same race, weren't at the press conference, so there's an equally good chance that someone else could be the one to drop the big time. Arata Fujiwara, coach of Japan-based Kenyan Michael Githae, told JRN that Githae, who has worked his way up the Fukuoka podium the last few years to 4th last year, is in good enough shape to win, so after three years in a row with Japanese winners Fukuoka might even go out with one last international winner. 

JRN is on-site in Fukuoka to cover the race's final edition live and shoot the final scene for our documentary on Fukuoka's international history. In terms of options for following the race from outside Japan, we'll be covering the race on @JRNLive. 5 km splits will be up here. It doesn't look like there's an official stream, but mov3.co might work. It's hard to believe this is really it, but let's hope Fukuoka has the same kind of punctuation to its history that Japan gave to Lake Biwa.

75th Fukuoka International Marathon

Elite Field Highlights
Fukuoka, 6 Dec. 2021
times listed are best in last three years except where noted

Kyohei Hosoya (Kurosaki Hariima) - 2:06:35 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Ryu Takaku (Yakult) - 2:06:45 (Tokyo 2020)
Daisuke Uekado (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:06:54 (Tokyo 2020)
Toshiki Sadakata (Mitsubishi Juko) - 2:07:05 (Tokyo 2020)
Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) - 2:07:12 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Yuki Kawauchi (ANDS) - 2:07:27 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Shohei Otsuka (Kyudenko) - 2:07:38 (Fukuoka Int'l 2020)
Masaru Aoki (Kanebo) - 2:07:40 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Yuta Shitara (Honda) - 2:07:45 (Tokyo 2020)
Atsumi Ashiwa (Honda) - 2:07:54 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Natsuki Terada (JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:08:03 (Fukuoka Int'l 2020)
Kento Otsu (Toyota Kyushu) - 2:08:15 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki) - 2:08:17 (Fukuoka Int'l 2020)
Junichi Tsubouchi (Kurosaki Harima) - 2:08:35 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Yuji Iwata (Mitsubishi Juko) - 2:08:45 (Tokyo 2020)
Kazuma Kubo (Nishitetsu) - 2:08:53 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 2:08:56 (Berlin 2019)
Chihiro Miyawaki (Toyota) - 2:09:04 (Tokyo 2020)
Kohei Futaoka (Chudenko) - 2:09:15 (Beppu-Oita 2019)
Shoma Yamamoto (NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:09:18 (Lake Biwa 2020)
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Mie T&F Assoc.) - 2:09:26 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Yoshiki Takenouchi (NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:09:31 (Fukuoka Int'l 2020)
Takahiro Nakamura (Kyocera Kagoshima) - 2:09:40 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Paul Kuira (Kenya/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:09:57 (Fukuoka Int'l 2020)
Jo Fukuda (NN Running Team) - 2:10:32 (Beppu-Oita 2020)
Ryota Komori (NTN) - 2:10:33 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Yuki Nakamura (Sumitomo Denko) - 2:10:47 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Takuma Shibata (Komori Corp.) - 2:10:48 (Hofu 2020)
Koshiro Hirata (SG Holdings) - 2:10:50 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Shota Saito (JFE Steel) - 2:10:50 (Beppu-Oita 2020)
Asuka Tanaka (Runlife) - 2:11:07 (Fukuoka Int'l 2020)
Taiki Suzuki (Eldoreso) - 2:12:09 (Fukuoka Int'l 2019)
Keita Shitara (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:12:13 (Tokyo 2020)
James Gitahi Rungaru (Kenya/Chuo Hatsujo) - 2:12:54 (Hofu 2020)
Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Kenya/Track Tokyo) - 2:14:41 (Nagano 2019)

Deubt
Nicholas Mboroto Kosimbei (Kenya/YKK) - 1:00:21 (Lisbon Half 2019)

photo © 2021 Mika Tokairin, all rights reserved
text © 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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