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Four Big Races This Weekend

Four big races happen Sunday, and it's looking like only one of them might escape the cold rain that's forecast to hit most of the country that morning. That would be Kyoto's Biwako Cross Country meet, the lesser cousin of Fukuoka's National Cross Country Championships three weeks later but still filling an important hole in the calendar left by the demise of the Chiba Cross Country meet. Biwako attracts a few corporate teams and top high schools like Wacoal and Toyokawa H.S., but its main claim to fame is as the National Junior High School Cross Country Championships. Complete entry lists here.

In the heart of Yokohama's industrial zone Sunday is one of two big half marathons, the Kanagawa Half Marathon and 10 km. Top-tier collegiate runners will be headed for Marugame, on which more later, but a lot of the schools that ran last month's Hakone Ekiden will send big contingents from their rosters of alternates and B-tier runners, and that always makes it one of the super-deep races of the season. Expect to see heavy representation by Hakone top two Aoyama Gakuin University and Komazawa University, Tokai University, Meiji University, Nihon University and more,

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon in Kagawa will be the bigger deal, the home of the Japanese men's national record and always with one of the best half marathon fields of the year in Japan. Sheila Chepkirui, Pauline Kamulu and Dolphine Omare lead the women's race this time, where the most exciting storyline might be the debuts of 5000m/10000m all-time JPN #2 Ririka Hironaka and #1 high schooler Caroline Kariba (Kamimura Gakuen H.S.).

Alexander Mutiso vs. Charles Langat vs. Cleophas Kandie is another good race waiting to happen in the men's race, and despite the expected rain hopes are high that Komazawa's Kotaro Shinohara will come through with Japan's first-ever sub-60 half marathon after running 1:00:11 last year. Sondre Moen and Brett Robinson are both in the race too, and 42-year-old Ser-Od Bat-Ochir will be trying to better his 1:02:10 Mongolian NR after a 1:02:53 tuneup last weekend in Osaka. BS-Fuji will have the live broadcast starting at 10:30 a.m. local time. Entry list info here.

Last up is the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in Oita. Beppu-Oita doesn't factor into consideration for the Paris Olympic team, but while that means there isn't a lot of top-tier talent it's still got a good field at the 2:06-2:08 level, with internationals Mohamed Reda El Aaraby, Hicham Laqouahi and Aychew Bantie leading domestic men Fumihiro Maruyama, Yuta Koyama, Yuta Shimoda, Kazuya Azegami, Ryo Osaki and Yuichi Yasui. Canadian Ben Preisner is also in the field, hoping to ride the deep pack to something a tier up from his 2:11:47 at the Oregon World Championships, and Hakone Ekiden Ninth Stage winner Genta Kuramoto of overall champ Aoyama Gakuin will be making his marathon debut. TBS has the live TV broadcast starting at 11:50 a.m. local time Sunday, with streaming above. Entry lists here.

© 2024 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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