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Fukuoka, Hofu and Kosa - Weekend Road Preview

Sunday is a big day for road racing in Japan, with three major races, the Fukuoka International Marathon, Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and Kumamoto Kosa 10-Mile Road Race all happening. Even before them there's a big event Saturday, a one-day mini edition of the Nittai University Time Trials track meet in Yokohama with a large number of people who raced last weekend's Hachioji Long Distance meet or Queens Ekiden on the start lists.

Fukuoka is really the main event, set up to try to get one runner, 2:06:35 man Kyohei Hosoya (Kurosaki Harima), to the 2:05:50 he needs to steal the third spot on the Paris Olympic team from the 3rd-placer at October's Olympic marathon trials, former NR holder Suguru Osako (GMO). Hosoya fell in the trials and dropped out. Since then he's run well in shorter races and doesn't seem to have any lingering damage, but considering that he's never broken 2:08 again since his 2:06:35 at the Miracle at Lake Biwa in 2021 it'd be a stretch for him to pull the time standard off. And with no other sub-2:10 Japanese men in the field it really is all up to him.

Ethiopian Abebe Negewo Degefa is the only runner in the field to have run under 2:05:50 recently, with Kenyans Bethel Yegon and Abel Kirui at the 2:06 level and Vincent Raimoi (Kenya/Suzuki), Zerei Kbrom Mezngi (Norway), Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki), Brett Robinson (Australia), Bethwell Kipkemboi Ruto (Kenya) and Shaohui Yang (China) at 2:07. Past champ Sondre Nordstad Moen (Norway) is also in the race. TV Asahi will be broadcasting Fukuoka live via local affiliate KBC starting at 12:00 noon local time. More on the Fukuoka field here.

When Fukuoka announced that it was being discontinued in 2021 the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon, traditionally held two weeks later, was quick to take over Fukuoka's date on the first Sunday of December for its 2022 running. The unexpected return of Fukuoka meant both races happened on the same day last year, and with Hofu organizers sticking to their decision it's going to happen again this year. Past Ageo City Half Marathon winner Simon Kariuki (Togami Denki) leads the field with a 2:07:18 from Lake Biwa 2021, and looking at the Japanese entries, two 2:07 men, two 2:08, and one 2:09, it's pretty clear why there's a big hole in the Fukuoka field between Hosoya and the next-fastest Japanese runner there, 2:10:41 man Takuma Kumagai (Sumitomo Denko).

Like Hosoya and Kariuki, the #2 and #3 entries in Hofu, Yuki Kawauchi (ANDS) and Atsumi Ashiwa (Honda) ran their bests of 2:07:27 and 2:07:54 at Lake Biwa 2021 and haven't improved on them since. #4 seed Yuki Nakamura (Sumitomo Denko) is the best in the race with a PB from somewhere else, a 2:08:29 for the win at last year's Hofu. Also in the race is Mongolian NR holder and past Hofu winner Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Shin Nihon Jusetsu), trying to get on the boards for qualification for his 6th-straight Olympics after running a career 2nd-best 1:02:37 two weeks ago at the Ageo City Half Marathon.

Hofu also has small women's and IPC fields. Sakiho Tsutsui (Yamada Holdings) and Ayano Ikeuchi (Denso) are the fastest women with recent bests of 2:28:45 and 2:33:29, with Tokyo Paralympians Tadashi Horikoshi (NTT Nishi Nihon) and Yumiko Fujii (Biwako Timers) leading the IPC races. Local broadcaster KRY will be showing the race at 10:40 a.m. local time, with streaming on Hulu and a finish line cam on Youtube. Complete Hofu field listing here.

The race where Benard Koech (Kyudenko) set a new world best for 10 miles last year, the Kumamoto Kosa 10-Mile Road Race, which also has high-level high school boys' 10 km and women's 5 km races, is a key tune-up for all the big championship ekidens still on the calendar from high school to collegiate to corporate league. Top entries in the 10-miler include 2:05:51 marathoner Ichitaka Yamashita (Mitsubishi Juko), 3000 mSC national record holder Ryuji Miura (Juntendo Univ.), 59:18 half marathoner Cleophas Kandie (Mitsubishi Juko), sub-61 half marathoners Joseph Razini Lemeteki (Yasukawa Denki), Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) and Kiyoshi Koga (Yasukawa Denki) and many more. Streaming starts above at 10:35 a.m. local time for the women's 5 km and 11:20 for the men's 10 miles. Live results for all distances will be here. Complete entry lists here.

© 2023 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Stefan said…
If I'm not mistaken, we have Nozomi Tanaka, Ririka Hironaka and Yuka Kimura competing in the 5000m event at the Nittaidai Challenge Games. That's some line up. Hopefully, they get some agreeable weather and can post fast times. Very interested to see how Yuka Kimura runs after being omitted from the winning Sekisui Queen's Exiden lineup last Sunday. I'm now beginning to think that perhaps, it was a mutual decision and she was targeting this race all along.

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