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Tokyo Marathon Preview

The Tokyo Marathon is back Sunday with two of the biggest names in the sport at the tops of its women's and men's fields, Sifan Hassan and Eliud Kipchoge. The weather is looking great, so expect fast races. Nippon TV is broadcasting it live from 9:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. local time, with streaming on TVer, Hulu and Nittere Tada. NTV's international broadcast will be available in over 150 countries, with JRN's Brett Larner on commentary again this year. Leaderboard and tracking will be here.

A quick breakdown of the major stories in the race and field listing:

The Women's Race
After winning her first two marathons in London and Chicago last year, Hassan is the fastest in the Tokyo field at 2:13:44. A win here would put her at 3/3 in Abbott World Marathon Majors titles and halfway to her six stars. Budapest World Championships gold medalist Amane Beriso Shankule and last year's winner Rosemary Wanjiru are her toughest competition, Amane with a 2:14:58 win in Valencia 2022 and Wanjiru's 2:16:28 in Tokyo standing as her best. Four other women in the race have recent 2:18 times and three others 2:19, but while there's potential for a big pack to go out hard it's not going to stay that way. Pacing for the first group is set at 3:11~3:12/km, targeting a high 2:14 time. Brigid Kosgei's 2:16:02 CR can't last.

Women's Olympic Qualification
In terms of the Paris Olympics, for most of the field Tokyo isn't directly relevant and only affects how their national federations weigh them in team selection. But with the Paris quota of 80 spots having already been filled by people who cleared the standard, two women in the race will be going for the 2:26:50 standard. Asian marathon champion Khishigsaikhan Galbadrakh will be trying to become the first Mongolian woman to qualify, for which she'd have to better the 2:28:03 NR. Andrea Seccafien will be making her marathon debut off a 1:09:38 half marathon best in Marugame four years ago and will be the 2nd Canadian to hit the standard if she's successful. Khishigsaikhan and Seccafien plan to run together at 3:28/km pace, targeting 2:26:17.

The Japanese Women
The Tokyo Marathon doesn't count toward making the Olympic team for Japanese women, so there are almost no top-level people in the field. 2007 Tokyo winner Hitomi Niiya gave going for the Paris team a miss in favor of trying to time trial a new NR with male friends pacing her, coming close with a 2:19:24 in Houston last year but far off target in Berlin last fall at only 2:23:08. Honami Maeda soloing the NR to 2:18:59 in January doesn't help her chances here, but Niiya is probably the only one right now who's physically capable of bettering that. Her pace crew will take her at 3:17/km, 2:18:32 pace.

The Women's Wheelchair Race
Tokyo Paralympics silver medalist Manuela Schar of Switzerland broke the Tokyo CR to win in 1:36:43 last year. Since then she finished 3rd in Berlin in 1:34:17, and one of the two women who narrowly beat her there, Great Britain's Eden Rainbow-Cooper, will line up in Tokyo for a rematch. Berlin 4th-placer Susannah Scaroni, 2023 London winner and Tokyo Paralympics gold medalist Madison de Rosario, and Japan's Wakako Tsuchida and Tsubasa Kina are all within a minute of Rainbow-Cooper and Schar in recent races, so it could be very close.

The Men's Race
Kipchoge set the Tokyo CR of 2:02:40 two years ago and was a lot faster later the same year with a 2:01:09 WR in Berlin. He came back from a setback in Boston last spring with a 2:02:42 win in Berlin, and Tokyo will be his first marathon since losing the WR to the late Kelvin Kiptum. Can he win again? Vincent Kipkemoi Ngetich was right with him in Berlin til late in the race with one of the best debuts ever, 2:03:13 for 2nd. Any improvement on that here and Kipchoge will be vulnerable.

Timothy Kiplagat is the only other 2:03 runner in the field, but there are eight men at the 2:04 level including 2022 Chicago winner Benson Kipruto, 2nd behind Kiptum in Chicago last fall in a PB 2:04:02, and last year's Tokyo champ Chalu Deso Gelmisa. Bethwel Kibet is a potential dark horse with a good progression from 2:06:26 to 2:05:42 to 2:04:37 over his last three marathons, and Patrick Mosin is debuting off two half marathons in the 59:30s last year. Lead group pacers will go at 2:52~2:53/km, targeting 2:01-low.

Men's Olympic Qualification
With every athlete in the elite men's field coming from a country that already has at least three people under the Olympic standard Tokyo won't affect the Paris quota at all, the only potential changes being in terms of athletes' domestic rankings and how their federations look at them. Most of that drama will come in the Japanese men's race.

The Japanese Men
At last October's Olympic trials the top three were Naoki Koyama, Akira Akasaki and Suguru Osako. Koyama and Akasaki are guaranteed to go to Paris, but if anyone in Tokyo runs under 2:05:51, the fastest time a Japanese man ran in the trials qualifying window, he'll take Osako's spot. That's a time only Osako and NR holder Kengo Suzuki have ever bettered, but last week in Osaka college student Kiyoto Hirabayashi came pretty close with a 2:06:18 debut. Given the faster course, high-caliber field, set to go at 2:57~2:58 km on track to hit Suzuki's 2:04:56 NR. and what looks like better weather in Tokyo, everything's in place for someone to do it. 

But is anyone good enough? Suzuki has run faster than 2:05:51 twice, but his only marathon since he last did it in Tokyo two years ago was a DNF at the Olympic trials in October. There's not much to say he's going to make a miracle comeback, but he is the best athlete in the Japanese field. Ichitaka Yamashita and Kenya Sonota both broke through with 2:05 times at Tokyo last year, but after having a tough time at the Budapest World Championships Yamashita ran only 2:14:11 and Sonota was an early DNF at the Olympic trials. Kazuya Nishiyama set a then-debut marathon NR 2:06:45 in Osaka last year, then ran 2:17:41 in Budapest. Kyohei Hosoya ran 2:06:35 at the Miracle at Lake Biwa three years ago, and in December came the closest to repeating that performance that he has with a 2:07:23 in Fukuoka.

That's probably the top tier of realistic contenders, out of which it’s really mostly on Suzuki and Yamashita. 1:00:38 half marathoner Yusuke Tamura is debuting and looks like he has the making of a good marathoner, especially with teammates Hosoya and Daisuke Doi both having run 2:06. 2021 Tokyo Olympics team member Yuma Hattori is in it too and spent most of his time since the New Year Ekiden in Kenya in prep for Tokyo. And this is Japan we're talking about, so there are a couple dozen more guys who could drop a breakthrough. We'll see. For his part, Osako is sitting it out to return to where his marathon career started in Boston.

The Men's Wheelchair Race
CR holder Marcel Hug of Switzerland isn't back this year, leaving NR holder and last year's runner-up Tomoki Suzuki as the top seed in the men's wheelchair field. His main competition is Tokyo Paralympics bronze medalist Daniel Romanchuk from the U.S.A., with Ryota Yoshida, Sho Watanabe, Masazumi Soejima, Takashi Yoshida and Hiroki Nishida all having recent times under 1:30:00. Other internationals include Johnboy Smith, Jake Lappin and Joshua Cassidy.

2024 Tokyo Marathon Elite Field Highlights

times listed are athletes' best in last 3 years except where noted

Wheelchair Women
2001. Eden Rainbow-Cooper (Great Britain) - 1:34:17 (Berlin 2023)
2002. Manuela Schar (Switzerland) - 1:34:17 (Berlin 2023)
2003. Susannah Scaroni (U.S.A.) - 1:34:31 (Berlin 2023)
2007. Wakako Tsuchida (Japan) - 1:37:59 (Oita Int'l 2022)
2008. Tsubasa Kina (Japan) - 1:38:11 (Oita Int'l 2022)
2004. Madison de Rosario (Australia) - 1:38:11 (Tokyo Olympics 2021)
2102. Aline Dos Santos Rocha (Brazil) - 1:39:38 (Berlin 2023)
2005. Jenna Fesemeyer (U.S.A.) - 1:44:17 (Tokyo 2023)
2006. Christie Dawes (Australia) - 1:44:49 (Oita 2023)

Wheelchair Men
1005. Tomoki Suzuki (Japan) - 1:18:37 NR (Oita Int'l 2021)
1001. Daniel Romanchuk (U.S.A.) - 1:24:40 (London 2022)
1007. Ryota Yoshida (Japan) - 1:26:49 (Oita Int'l 2023)
1008. Sho Watanabe (Japan) - 1:28:16 (Oita Int'l 2023)
1101. Masazumi Soejima (Japan) - 1:29:23 (Oita 2021)
1104. Takashi Yoshida (Japan) - 1:29:42 (Oita 2021)
1102. Hiroki Nishida (Japan) - 1:29:55 (Tokyo 2021)
1002. Johnboy Smith (Great Britain) - 1:31:05 (Tokyo 2021)
1003. Jake Lappin (Australia) - 1:31:17 (Berlin 2023)
1108. Jun Hiromichi (Japan) - 1:33:12 (Grandma's 2022)
1004. Joshua Cassidy (Canada) - 1:33:29 (Chicago 2023)

51. Sifan Hassan (Netherlands) - 2:13:44 (Chicago 2023)
52. Amane Beriso Shankule (Ethiopia) - 2:14:58 (Valencia 2022)
53. Rosemary Wanjiru (Kenya) - 2:16:28 (Tokyo 2023)
55. Tigist Abayechew (Ethiopia) - 2:18:03 (Berlin 2022)
56. Sutume Asefa Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:18:12 (Seoul 2022)
57. Magdalena Shauri (Tanzania) - 2:18:41 (Berlin 2023)
54. Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (Israel) - 2:18:45 (Nagoya 2022)
60. Hitomi Niiya (Japan) - 2:19:24 (Houston 2023)
58. Buzunesh Getachew (Ethiopia) - 2:19:27 (Frankfurt 2023)
59. Meseret Abebayahau (Ethiopia) - 2:19:50 (Amsterdam 2023)
341. Betsy Saina (U.S.A.) - 2:21:40 (Tokyo 2023)
61. Yumi Yoshikawa (Japan) - 2:25:20 (Osaka Women's 2023)
301. Khishigsaikhan Galbadrakh (Mongolia) - 2:28:33 (Taipei 2023)
302. Shiho Kaneshige (Japan) - 2:29:26 (Tokyo 2022)
303. Misato Horie (Japan) - 2:32:10 (Osaka 2022)
304. Ai Ikemoto (Japan) - 2:34:17 (Hofu 2022)
340. Andrea Seccafien (Canada) - debut - 1:11:33 (NYC Half 2022)

1. Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) - 2:01:09 (Berlin 2022)
2. Vincent Kipkemoi Ngetich (Kenya) - 2:03:13 (Berlin 2023)
3. Timothy Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:03:50 (Rotterdam 2023)
4. Benson Kipruto (Kenya) - 2:04:02 (Chicago 2023)
101. Bethwel Kibet (Kenya) - 2:04:37 (Amsterdam 2023)
5. Hailemaryam Kiros (Ethiopia) - 2:04:41 (Paris 2021)
6. Andualem Belay (Ethiopia) - 2:04:44 (Berlin 2023)
7. Tsegaye Getachew (Ethiopia) - 2:04:49 (Amsterdam 2022)
8. Chalu Deso Gelmisa (Ethiopia) - 2:04:56 (Valencia 2022)
10. Kengo Suzuki (Japan) - 2:04:56 (Lake Biwa 2021)
102. Bazezew Asmare (Ethiopia) - 2:04:57 (Amsterdam 2022)
9. Victor Kiplangat (Uganda) - 2:05:09 (Hamburg 2022)
11. Ichitaka Yamashita (Japan) - 2:05:51 (Tokyo 2023)
12. Kenya Sonota (Japan) - 2:05:59 (Tokyo 2023)
103. Haimro Alame (Israel) - 2:06:04 (Valencia 2023)
104. Bedan Karoki (Kenya) - 2:06:15 (Tokyo 2020)
13. Kyohei Hosoya (Japan) - 2:06:35 (Lake Biwa 2021)
14. Kazuya Nishiyama (Japan) - 2:06:45 (Osaka 2023)
105. Yusuke Ogura (Japan) - 2:06:51 (Lake Biwa 2021)
107. Michael Githae (Kenya) - 2:07:08 (Fukuoka Int'l 2023)
108. Shuho Dairokuno (Japan) - 2:07:12 (Lake Biwa 2021)
109. Simon Kariuki (Kenya) - 2:07:18 (Lake Biwa 2021)
110. Masato Kikuchi (Japan) - 2:07:20 (Lake Biwa 2021)
106. Toshiki Sadakata (Japan) - 2:07:24 (Osaka 2023)
112. Masaki Sakuda (Japan) - 2:07:42 (Lake Biwa 2021)
114. Shungo Yokota (Japan) - 2:07:47 (Beppu-Oita 2023)
113. Yusuke Nishiyama (Japan) - 2:07:47 (Beppu-Oita 2022)
115. Yuhei Urano (Japan) - 2:07:52 (Osaka 2022)
111. Shin Kimura (Japan) - 2:07:55 (Beppu-Oita 2023)
149. Workneh Derese (Ethiopia) - 2:07:58 (Beppu-Oita 2024)
116. Yugo Kashiwa (Japan) - 2:08:11 (Osaka 2023)
117. Kenta Uchida (Japan) - 2:08:12 (Lake Biwa 2021)
118. Shunya Kikuchi (Japan) - 2:08:20 (Osaka 2023)
120. Keisuke Hayashi (Japan) - 2:08:21 (Tokyo 2022)
121. Kensuke Horio (Japan) - 2:08:25 (Tokyo 2022)
123. Kiyoshi Koga (Japan) - 2:08:30 (Beppu-Oita 2022)
124. Kenji Yamamoto (Japan) - 2:08:38 (Osaka 2022)
125. Naoki Aiba (Japan) - 2:08:44 (Beppu-Oita 2022)
126. Kazuma Kubo (Japan) - 2:08:48 (Tokyo 2022)
128. Takashi Ichida (Japan) - 2:08:57 (Chicago 2023)
119. Naoya Sakuda (Japan) - 2:09:06 (Beppu-Oita 2023)
127. Minato Oishi (Japan) - 2:09:08 (Fukuoka Int'l 2022)
129. Kohei Futaoka (Japan) - 2:09:14 (Fukuoka Int'l 2021)
130. Masaya Taguchi (Japan) - 2:09:27 (Tokyo 2022)
131. Kyoya Tsujino (Japan) - 2:09:39 (Osaka 2023)
132. Takamitsu Hashimoto (Japan) - 2:09:43 (Lake Biwa 2021)
133. Koki Takada (Japan) - 2:09:45 (Fukuoka Int'l 2022)
134. Yuma Hattori (Japan) - 2:09:47 (Osaka 2023)
138. Benard Kimeli (Kenya) - 2:10:50 (Berlin 2021)
159. Benjamin Ngandu (Kenya) - 2:14:56 (Kasumigaura 2023)
161. Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Kenya) - 2:15:19 (Tokyo 2022)
200. Patrick Mosin (Kenya) - debut - 59:31 (Lille Half 2023)
201. Yusuke Tamura (Japan) - debut - 1:00:38 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2022)

© 2024 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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