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Osaka Marathon Elite Field (updated)

Four of last year's top five women will be back at the Osaka Marathon, with 2023 winner and CR breaker Helen Tola Bekele returning to face runner-up Beyenu Degefa, Lisa Weightman, and new additions Fancy Chemutai, 2:18:11 in Valencia 2022, and Viola Jelgata Kibiwot, 2:22:57 in Frankfurt last fall. Misaki Ichida was the 2nd Japanese woman last year in 2:25:51 for 5th, and she's the top-ranked domestic name this year at 8th in the field.

You wouldn't know Osaka is the third of four big men's marathons in Japan in the course of four months, as 49 sub-2:10 men are entered. It's a completely different field from last year, with the top returning runner being Shohei Otsuka, 8th last year in 2:06:57. Japanese men have to run 2:05:50 to have a chance of taking the third Olympic team spot away from Suguru Osako, and top three-ranked Stephen Kissa, Adeladlew Mamo and Yihunilign Adane are all positioned from 2:04:48 to 2:05:53 to help enable that.

Realistically, everyone who could do it is probably in Tokyo a week later. Hidekazu Hijikata and Hiroto Inoue have both run 2:06 along with Otsuka, but 2:05 is a jump for all of them. Likewise for Paris Olympic marathon trials winner Naoki Koyama, 2:07:40 in his win at last year's Gold Coast Marathon. It's more likely we'll see a dozen or so 2:07 performances from them and the next tier down.

But last year Osaka saw a pair of 2:06 debuts from Kazuya Nishiyama and Yohei Ikeda, and this year the best shot at 2:05:50 may come from a first-timer too. Aoi Ota ran the equivalent of a 58:57 half marathon on his stage at the Hakone Ekiden last month to help Aoyama Gakuin University win. His coach Susumu Hara predicted he'd run a 2:04 marathon debut off that, and once he thought about that bit more pulled Ota from his planned debut in Beppu-Oita this past weekend to put him in Osaka.

If the 58:57 were for real it'd suggest 2:03 is possible, so 2:05:50 seems realistic. That would raise the bar for everyone hoping to score the third Olympic spot in Tokyo the same way Honami Maeda's 2:18:59 at the Osaka International Women's Marathon did for Nagoya. And Ota isn't the only high-potential debut. Keijiro Mogi has a 1:00:33 half marathon to his name, and Kiyoto Hirabayashi ran the equivalent of 1:00:41 on a tougher stage than Ota's at Hakone.

Further back, Mongolian NR holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir will try to seal up his record sixth Olympic marathon with a good enough run to get near the top of the quota. He may lose the NR en route, though, as rival Olonbayar Jamsran is back after missing record by 8 seconds in Osaka last year.

Osaka Marathon Elite Field Highlights

Osaka, 25 Feb. 2024
times listed are athletes' best in last 3 years except where noted

Fancy Chemutai (Kenya) - 2:18:11 (Valencia 2022)
Helen Tola Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:19:44 (Berlin 2023)
Viola Jelagat Kibiwot (Kenya) - 2:22:57 (Frankfurt 2023)
Beyenu Degefa (Ethiopia) - 2:23:04 (Valencia 2021)
Waganesh Mekasha (Ethiopia) - 2:23:12 (Toronto 2023)
Lisa Weightman (Australia) - 2:23:15 (Osaka 2023)
Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 2:25:10 (Nagoya 2022)
Misaki Ichida (Japan) - 2:25:51 (Osaka 2023)
Ellie Pashley (Australia) - 2:29:37 (London 2023)
Saki Fukui (Japan) - 2:30:31 (Nagoya 2021) - DNS
Dayna Pidhoresky (Canada) - 2:30:58 (Toronto 2022)
Kaede Kawamura (Japan) - debut - 1:10:17 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2022)
Seika Ogata (Japan) - debut - 1:12:02 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2022)

Stephen Kissa (Uganda) - 2:04:48 (Hamburg 2022)
Adeladlew Mamo (Ethiopia) - 2:05:12 (Seville 2022)
Yihunilign Adane (Ethiopia) - 2:05:53 (Barcelona 2022) - DNS
Hidekazu Hijikata (Japan) - 2:06:26 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Kipkemoi Kiprono (Kenya) - 2:06:45 (Barcelona 2021)
Hiroto Inoue (Japan) - 2:06:47 (Lake Biwa 2021) - DNS
Kemal Husen (Ethiopia) - 2:06:52 (Dublin 2023)
Shohei Otsuka (Japan) - 2:06:57 (Osaka 2023)
Vincent Raimoi (Kenya) - 2:07:01 (Fukuoka Int'l 202)
Iliass Aouani (Italy) - 2:07:16 (Barcelona 2023)
Kento Kikutani (Japan) - 2:07:26 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) - 2:07:27 (Lake Biwa 2021) - DNS
Koki Yoshioka (Japan) - 2:07:28 (Osaka 2023)
Kazuki Muramoto (Japan) - 2:07:36 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Naoki Koyama (Japan) - 2:07:40 (Gold Coast 2023)
Masaru Aoki (Japan) - 2:07:40 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Tsubasa Ichiyama (Japan) - 2:07:41 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Tatsuya Maruyama (Japan) - 2:07:50 (Berlin 2022)
Atsumi Ashiwa (Japan) - 2:07:54 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Daisuke Doi (Japan) - 2:07:55 (Osaka 2023)
Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Japan) - 2:07:55 (Beppu-Oita 2022)
Naoki Okamoto (Japan) - 2:08:04 (Osaka 2022)
Ryu Takaku (Japan) - 2:08:05 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Peiyou Feng (China) - 2:08:07 (Fukuoka Int'l 2023)
Kento Nishi (Japan) - 2:08:11 (Osaka 2023)
Daisuke Hosomori (Japan) - 2:08:28 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Daiji Kawai (Japan) - 2:08:31 (Tokyo 2022)
Kiyohito Akiyama (Japan) - 2:08:43 (Fukuoka Int'l 2022) - DNS
Naoki Aiba (Japan) - 2:08:44 (Beppu-Oita 2022)
Rintaro Takeda (Japan) - 2:08:48 (Osaka 2022)
Riki Nakanishi (Japan) - 2:08:51 (Beppu-Oita 2022)
Shoma Yamamoto (Japan) - 2:08:52 (Hofu 2022)
Guojian Dong (China) - 2:08:53 (Chicago 2022)
Olonbayar Jamsran (Mongolia) - 2:08:58 (Osaka 2023)
Yuki Matsumura (Japan) - 2:09:01 (Lake Biwa 2021) - DNS
Kohei Futaoka (Japan) - 2:09:14 (Fukuoka Int'l 2021)
Madoka Tanihara (Japan) - 2:09:15 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Shoma Hosoya (Japan) - 2:09:18 (Tokyo 2022)
Yuya Yoshida (Japan) - 2:09:20 (Tokyo 2022)
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia) - 2:09:26 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Kei Katanishi (Japan) - 2:09:27 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Yuki Takamiya (Japan) - 2:09:30 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Tadashi Isshiki (Japan) - 2:09:32 (Osaka 2022)
Takayuki Iida (Japan) - 2:09:34 (Prague 2023)
Takahiro Nakamura (Japan) - 2:09:40 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Junnosuke Matsuo (Japan) - 2:09:48 (Tokyo 2022)
Tebello Ramakongoana (Lesotho) - 2:09:57 (Budapest WC 2023)
Masashi Nonaka (Japan) - 2:09:57 (Osaka 2022)
Koshiro Hirata (Japan) - 2:09:57 (Osaka 2022)
Xiangdong Wu (China) - 2:10:02 (Beijing 2023)
Gantulga Dambadarjaa (Mongolia) - 2:11:18 (Seoul 2022)
Thomas Do Canto (Australia) - 2:11:51 (Valencia 2023)
Shogo Nakamura (Japan) - 2:12:10 (Tokyo 2023)
Aoi Ota (Japan) - debut - 58:57 (Hakone Ekiden 2024) - DNS
Keijiro Mogi (Japan) - debut - 1:00:33 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2023)
Kiyoto Hirabayashi (Japan) - debut - 1:00:41 (Hakone Ekiden 2024)
Ken Yokote (Japan) - debut - 1:01:18 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2022)
Homare Morita (Japan) - debut - 1:01:28 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2022)
Takuya Kitasaki (Japan) - debut - 1:01:48 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2022)
Daisuke Higuchi (Japan) - debut - 1:01:59 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2022)

© 2024 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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j said…
The depth is absolutely incredible. Yes the bigger names may be in Tokyo, but there are twice as many corporate mens runners in this field than in Tokyo (something in the range of 55 in Tokyo and 100+ in Osaka). Two of my dark horses to watch are Ken Nakayama (Honda, 2:19 best) and Yuta Nakayama (JR, 2:26 best), who both blew up in their debuts. Both should be in great shape having been 3rd and 5th in on the 2nd stage at New Years Ekiden. Yuta would be a great underdog story to root for as a small college guy. Lake Biwa used to be known for guys like this who would instantly improve to sub 2:10, I think these two are the next in line.
Brett Larner said…
Ken’s a great guy from outside the usual mold and has a lot of talent if he could just avoid getting injured. Would love to see him have a good one.

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