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Tokyo Marathon Elite Field

The Tokyo Marathon is back to holding its race in the same year as its name, and it's got pretty good fields on both the women's and men's sides. The women's race draws pretty heavily on last fall's Berlin Marathon, with Japan-based Rosemary Wanjiru leading 3 of Berlin's top 4 alongside 2021 Tokyo runner-up Ashete Bekere, 2022 Seoul winner Joan Chelimo Melly, and 2022 Amsterdam 3rd-placer Tsehay Gemechu

That group of 6 is all in the 2:17:58~2:18:59 range, exactly where the JAAF would like to see the top Japanese woman. Even with super shoes nobody has touched Mizuki Noguchi's 2:19:12 NR in the almost 18 years since it was set, not that women-only NR holder Mao Ichiyama and last year's Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Mizuki Matsuda haven't tried. Maybe this'll be the year. Maybe not.

Tokyo race director Tad Hayano generally hasn't cared at all about having internationals beyond that top tier, but this year there's actually a decent raft of them at the 2:23~2:32 level, including Australian master Lisa Weightman and 2022 Gold Coast Marathon winner Lindsay Flanagan. They'll be perfectly positioned to pace the Japanese women in the field who haven't yet qualified for October's Olympic marathon trials, which will take 2:28:00 and a top 3 Japanese finish, 2:27:00 and a top 6 Japanese finish, 2:24:00 or better if outside top 6, or have two races averaging 2:28:00 or better.

The men's side draws heavily on the podium from last October's Amsterdam Marathon, with winner Tsegay Getachew leading 9 current sub-2:05 men including 2021 London winner Sisay Lemma, 2022 Hamburg winner Cyprian Kotut and Japanese NR holder Kengo Suzuki. 5000 m NR holder Suguru Osako, back from his mysterious 6-month-to-the-day retirement, is also in the race, making it an interesting head-to-head between the two fastest Japanese men ever.

The Arata Fujiwara-coached 59:51 half marathoner Vincent Raimoi is an intriguing dark horse, 2:07:01 for 2nd in his debut at December's Fukuoka International Marathon while only acting as a pacer in training partner Michael Githae's workouts but coming to Tokyo this time to do it for real. 4th at the Oregon World Championships last year, Canada's Cam Levins is in it too with the 22nd-best recent time in the field, 2:07:09, putting him right behind 2020 Fukuoka International Marathon winner Yuya Yoshida.

Most interesting among the debuting men is the super-talented but super-fragile Ken Nakayama, 1:00:38 for 2nd at last year's National Corporate Half. 2023 Hakone Ekiden champ Komazawa University is fielding sub-61 half marathoner Chikara Yamano in his pre-grad debut, and off a great run at last weekend's National Men's Ekiden visually-impaired Hakone star Yudai Shimazu from Soka University will be taking another stab at the marathon pre-grad following a DNF in his debut in Tokyo last year. They'll all need to be in the top 3 Japanese placers and 2:10:00 or better, top 6 and 2:09:00 or under, 2:08:00 for any lower placing, or have two races averaging 2:10:00 to make the Olympic trials.

JRN's Brett Larner will be soloing the commentary on the Fuji TV international broadcast again this year. See you then.

Tokyo Marathon Elite Field Highlights

Tokyo, 5 Mar. 2023
times listed are best in last 3 years except where noted

Ashete Bekere (Ethiopia) - 2:17:58 (2nd, Tokyo 2021)
Rosemary Wanjiru (Kenya/Starts) - 2:18:00 (2nd, Berlin 2022)
Tigist Abayechew (Ethiopia) - 2:18:03 (3rd, Berlin 2022)
Joan Chelimo Melly (Romania) - 2:18:04 (1st, Seoul 2022)
Worknesh Edesa (Ethiopia) - 2:18:51 (4th, Berlin 2022)
Tsehay Gemechu (Ethiopia) - 2:18:59 (3rd, Amsterdam 2022)
Mao Ichiyama (Shiseido) - 2:20:29 (1st, Nagoya 2020)
Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) - 2:20:52 (1st, Osaka Int'l 2022)
Ai Hosoda (Edion) - 2:21:42 (9th, London 2022)
Natsumi Matsushita (Tenmaya) - 2:23:05 (3rd, Osaka Int'l 2022)
Antonina Kwambai (Kenya) - 2:23:20 (1st, Toronto Waterfront 2022)
Lisa Weightman (Australia) - 2:24:00 (15th, Berlin 2022)
Yukari Abe (Kyocera) - 2:24:02 (5th, Osaka Int'l 2022)
Lindsay Flanagan (U.S.A.) - 2:24:35 (1st, Gold Coast 2022)
Kotona Ota (Japan Post) - 2:25:56 (8th, Nagoya Women's 2022)
Natasha Cockram (Great Britain) - 2:26:14 (18th, Valencia 2022)
Hanae Tanaka (Daiichi Seimei) - 2:26:49 (5th, Nagoya Women's 2021)
Kaori Morita (Panasonic) - 2:27:38 (10th, Tokyo 2022)
Betsy Saina (U.S.A.) - 1:11:13 (4th, Tokyo Legacy Half 2022)

Sisay Lemma (Ethiopia) - 2:04:01 (1st, London 2021)
Bernard Koech (Kenya) - 2:04:09 (2nd, Amsterdam 2021)
Dawit Wolde (Ethiopia) - 2:04:27 (3rd, Rotterdam 2021)
Cyprian Kotut (Kenya) - 2:04:47 (1st, Hamburg 2022)
Stephen Kissa (Uganda) - 2:04:48 (2nd, Hamburg 2022)
Tsegay Getachew (Ethiopia) - 2:04:49 (1st, Amsterdam 2022)
Deso Gelmisa (Ethiopia) - 2:04:53 (6th, Valencia 2020)
Titus Kipruto (Kenya) - 2:04:54 (2nd, Amsterdam 2022)
Kengo Suzuki (Fujitsu) - 2:04:56 (1st, Lake Biwa 2021) - withdrawn
Mohamed Esa (Ethiopia) - 2:05:05 (5th, Amsterdam 2022)
Suguru Osako (GMO) - 2:05:29 (4th, Tokyo 2020)
Mike Kiptum Boit (Kenya) - 2:06:08 (4th, Barcelona 2022)
Brimin Misoi (Kenya) - 2:06:11 (1st, Frankfurt 2022)
Hidekazu Hijikata (Asahi Kasei) - 2:06:26 (2nd, Lake Biwa 2021)
Deme Tadu Abate (Ethiopia) - 2:06:28 (3rd, Berlin 2022)
Kyohei Hosoya (Kurosaki Harima) - 2:06:35 (3rd, Lake Biwa 2021)
Ryu Takaku (Yakult) - 2:06:45 (8th, Tokyo 2020)
Hiroto Inoue (Mitsubishi Juko) - 2:06:47 (4th, Lake Biwa 2021)
Mohamed Reda El Aaraby (Morocco) - 2:06:55 (7th, Paris 2022)
Vincent Raimoi (Kenya/Suzuki) - 2:07:01 (2nd, Fukuoka Int'l 2022)
Yuya Yoshida (GMO) - 2:07:05 (1st, Fukuoka Int'l 2020)
Cam Levins (Canada) - 2:07:09 (4th, Oregon Worlds 2022)
Kenya Sonota (JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:07:14 (7th, Berlin 2022)
Masato Kikuchi (Makes) - 2:07:20 (8th, Lake Biwa 2021)
Gaku Hoshi (Konica Minolta) - 2:07:31 (1st, Osaka 2022)
Shun Yuzawa (SGH) - 2:07:31 (8th, Tokyo 2022)
Kazuki Muramoto (Sumitomo Denko) - 2:07:36 (11th, Lake Biwa 2021)
Ichitaka Yamashita (Mitsubishi Juko) - 2:07:42 (2nd, Osaka 2022)
Yuta Shitara (Honda) - 2:07:45 (16th, Tokyo 2020)
Atsumi Ashiwa (Honda) - 2:07:54 (15th, Lake Biwa 2021)

Ken Nakayama (Honda) - 1:00:38 (2nd, Nat'l Corp. Half 2022)
Chikara Yamano (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:00:40 (4th, Nat'l Corp. Half 2022)
Tatsuya Oike (Toyota Boshoku) - 1:01:23 (18th, Nat'l Corp. Half 2021)
Yudai Okamoto (Sunbelx) - 27:50.64 (3rd, Hachioji Long Distance 2022)
Paul Onyiego (Kenya/FSNM) - 27:51.59 (10th, Nittai Univ. Time Trials 2021)
Yudai Shimazu (Soka Univ.) - 1:03:18 (12th, Sendai Half 2022)

© 2023 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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