Two big races cap Sunday's road racing action in Japan. First up is the Nagoya Women's Marathon, where last year's winner Ruth Chepngetich is back saying at the pre-race press conference that she's ready to break the course record. Although she's still listed in the field on the English section of the Nagoya site, oddly she has been dropped from the Japanese section's field listing. She wasn't included in yesterday's announcement of the withdrawal of Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Molly Seidel and Germany's Katharina Steinruck, either language version, so it's possible her absence from the field listing on the Japanese site is a mistake. But it's very odd.
Either way, the world's largest women-only marathon has a relatively thin elite field, even thinner with Seidel and Steinruck out. 2021 Valencia winner Nancy Jelagat is the only sub-2:20 runner in the field apart from Chepngetich, with the next tier solidly at the 2:22-2:23 and occupied by Japan's Ayuko Suzuki, Mao Uesugi, Mizuki Tanimoto and Honami Maeda. Maeda won the last Olympic marathon trials and has had setback after setback ever since. The main story line here will be whether she can qualify here for October's trials ahead of the May 31 deadline. Hopes are high too for a big follow-up from 2019 World. University Games half marathon gold medalist Yuka Suzuki on her 2:25:02 debut in Nagoya last year. And, if Chepngetich doesn't cut it for whatever reason, whether any of the Japanese women can outrun Jelagat to score the $250,000 prize money for the win.
Fuji TV has the live broadcast starting at 9:00 a.m. local time. The broadcast will be streamed in 34 countries on the Nagoya website, and mov3.co is always an option if you're not in one of them. JRN will be covering Nagoya live on @JRNLive.
The other big race is the National University Men's Half Marathon in Tokyo's western suburb Tachikawa. It's always one of the deepest half marathons in the world, and as the selection race for the twice-postponed Chengdu World University Games this summer it's pretty likely some of the bigger names on the entry list will actually run.
2022-23 university ekiden season triple crown winner Komazawa University has some of its best runners training for the University Half in Albuquerque last month, so you'll probably see the likes of Kotaro Shinohara, the fastest-ever Japanese-born collegiate half marathoner at 1:00:11, 27:41.68 track 10000 m man Mebuki Suzuki, Hakone Ekiden anchor stage winner Hibiki Aogaki, star 1st-years Aoi Ito and Takuma Yamakawa, and more on the starting line.
Other top talent includes last year's winner Kiyoto Hirabayashi (Koku Gakuin Univ.), sub-61 half marathoners Ayumu Yamamoto (Koku Gakuin Univ.) and Kazuki Matsuyama (Toyo Univ.), sub-28 runner Reishi Yoshida (Chuo Gakuin Univ.), Hakone Fifth Stage winner Yuito Yamamoto (Josai Univ.), and many more. The top 3 finishers will be named to the Chengdu team, so it's possible Japan could send a squad entirely made up of collegiate runners who've broke 61 for the half. Streaming can be found here starting at 9:45 a.m. local time, with the race kicking off at 10:00.
photo © 2023 Nagoya Women's Marathon, all rights reservedtext © 2023 Brett Larner, all rights reserved