Skip to main content

World Champion Florence Kiplagat vs. Kinukawa and Chepyego, Past Winners Njui and Ngatuny Lead Sapporo International Half Marathon - Preview (updated)

by Brett Larner

Update 7/2: Defending women's champion Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) has withdrawn from tomorrow's Sapporo International Half Marathon with an unspecified leg injury according to a tweet by her coach Manabu Kawagoe. 2010 Tokyo Marathon winner Masakazu Fujiwara (Team Honda) and 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) have also withdrawn.

With most of the spring half marathon season cancelled in the wake of the Mar. 11 disasters, this year's Sapporo International Half Marathon will mark a return to the distance for many of Japan's top athletes. Scheduled to be run again with the 1:30 p.m. start time put in place last year times are unlikely to be fast in the peak of the summer heat, but both the women's and men's races should be thickly competitive. Sapporo will be broadcast live by Nihon TV on July 3. Overseas viewers should be able to watch online via Keyhole TV. JRN will be doing live English commentary via Twitter @JRNLive.

2010 World Half Marathon and 2009 World Cross-Country champion Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) leads the way in the women's race, her 1:07:40 PB more than a minute faster than the next best runner in the field, defending champion Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC). With Kano out of form for most of the last year and sub-70 women Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.) and Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) likewise off their best of late, the biggest challenge to Kiplagat should come from a pair of talented debutantes, Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) and Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko). Neither Kinukawa nor Chepyego are on the invited athlete list, but a source connected with Kinukawa confirmed to JRN that she is running in the general division and Chepyego's team page also lists her as running. Both women are fresh off World Championships A-standard 10000 m PBs, 31:10.12 for Kinukawa and 31:27.98 for Chepyego, and with similar performances should be key players in Sapporo. All Japanese eyes will be on Kinukawa, who made the all-time Japanese top four at 10000 m and top six at 5000 m in June. A 1:08:56 would be enough for her to make the all-time Japanese top ten, but whether that would be feasible in the predicted heat or enough to beat Kiplagat or Chepyego remains to be seen.

The last two Sapporo men's winners, Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) and Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) return to face 2:07 marathoner Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), 2010 Asian Games marathon gold medalist Youngjun Ji (Korea) and invited elite Andrew Lemoncello (U.K.). Three of Japan's World Championships marathoners are entered, Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) leading Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) with a 1:01:41 PB. Also on the list are a number of top domestic men who have been out of competition with injury over the last year and are looking to make strong comebacks, among them national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), half marathon ace Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo), Ottawa Marathon course record holder Arata Fujiwara (Remo System AC), Hakone Ekiden legend Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) and track star Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu). With at least 20 Japanese men in the field holding PBs under dozens more at the next tier it is tough to predict who will hold up in the heat, but Sapporo will serve as a good preview of who is on top for the upcoming fall road season.

2011 Sapporo International Half Marathon Elite Field Highlights
Megumi Kinukawa (Mizuno) - debut - 10000 m: 31:10.12
Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - debut - 10000 m: 31:27.98
Misaki Kato (Team Kyudenko) - debut - 5000 m: 15:50.11
Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) - 1:07:40
Yumiko Hara (Team Univ. Ent.) - 1:09:28
Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko) - 1:09:57
Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 1:10:16
Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 1:10:51
Chika Horie (Team Univ. Ent.) - 1:11:29
Aki Odagiri (Meijo Univ.) - 1:11:43

Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - debut - 10000 m: 27:58.03
Akiyuki Iwanaga (Team Kyudenko) - debut - 10000 m: 28:41.36
Youngjun Ji (Korea) - debut - 10000 m: 29:42.38
Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:50
Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:00:25
Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) - 1:01:03
Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 1:01:41
Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) - 1:01:50
Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:08
Kenichiro Setoguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:13
Naoto Yoneda (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:14
Arata Fujiwara (Remo System AC) - 1:02:17
Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:02:26
Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:29
Hiroshi Yamada (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:31
Kazuki Ikenaga (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:33
Masaki Shimoju (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:02:35
Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:02:37
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:02:40
Shuji Yoshikawa (Team Kyudenko) - 1:02:42
Akira Okada (Team Hitachi Cable) - 1:02:52
Masayuko Obata (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:53
Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:53
Takeshi Makabe (Team Kanebo) - 1:02:58
Andrew Lemoncello (U.K.) - 1:03:00
Yuichi Shinoda (Team Hitachi Cable) - 1:03:05
Mamoru Hirano (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:03:12
Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:03:41
Kenta Chiba (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:42
Hiroki Kubota (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:04:47
Daichi Motomura (Tokai Univ.) - 1:05:36
Daiki Nomoto (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:06:14

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi and Kiyara Live Up to Expectations With Wan Jin Shi Wins

Returning to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon after having first run it in 2016, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:14:12 to score his fourth-straight marathon win in a third-straight wire-to-wire solo performance. Choosing the hilly Wan Jin Shi Marathon as his final main tuneup for next month's Boston Marathon, Kawauchi came out swinging, leading an all-African pack of seven by almost 10 seconds after the tough uphill opening 5 km and stretching that out to over two minutes by the turnaround point at halfway.

On track to break the 2:13:05 course record by more than two minutes. under sunny skies with temperatures climbing to 22C and nearly 80% humidity Kawauchi began to slow incrementally. Behind him, Johnstone Kibet Maiyo (Kenya) and Aredome Tiuyay Degefa (Ethiopia) separated from the chase pack and began to push each other in pursuit of the top spot. With every 5 km split the gap to Kawauchi narrowed. At 40 km Maiyo threw down to get rid of Degefa, blasting the dow…

Kawauchi and Kiyara Headline Wan Jin Shi Marathon

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returns to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon this Sunday for his marathon of the post-Yuta Shitara era. The runner-up in Wan Jin Shi in 2016, Kawauchi is ranked #1 in the field and comes to Wan Jin Shi with wins in his last three marathons but faces a solid field including fellow sub-2:10 man Peter Kiplagat Sitenei, last year's runner-up Tsegaye Debele (Ethiopia), and the only man to beat him last time around, 2016 winner and course record holder William Chebon Chebor (Kenya). Kawauchi plans to use the hilly race as a tune-up for his main marathon of the spring season, April's Boston Marathon.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rael Kiyara Nguriatukei (Kenya), winner of the 2012 Hamburg Marathon before being stripped of her title and suspended for a positive post-race test for norandrosterone, has the fastest recent time in the women's field with a 2:26:22 winning time at last year's Chongqing Marathon. Close behind is Chemtai …

1500 m Olympian Assefa Wins Nagoya, 22-Year-Old Sekine 2:23:07 Debut

Two-time 1500 m Olympian Meskerem Assefa (Ethiopia) ran down favorite Valary Jemeli (Kenya) with 4 km to go to win the 2018 Nagoya Women's Marathon, with the home town crowd wowed by the debut of the latest next big thing, 22-year-old Hanami Sekine (Japan Post).

Supported by three pacers, a lead pack of seven including Assefa, Jemeli, Sekine, Ethiopian Bahraini Merima Mohamed, Saitama International Marathon winner Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) and top-ranked Japanese women Reia Iwade (Dome) and Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) went through halfway in a decent 1:11:32. This proved too hot for a few of the past next big things to have run well in Nagoya the last few years, as Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu), 2:22:48 in Nagoya three years ago, and Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), 2:23:47 last year, were off the back of the pack in the first 10 km.

By 25 km Cheyech, Ohara and Iwade joined them off the back, leaving only Sekine in contention with the African trio of Jemeli, Assefa and Mohammed. Sekine, a…