Skip to main content

Nagoya Women's Marathon Preview - Watch Online

by Brett Larner

The Japanese selection races for the country's marathon teams for the London Olympics wrap up this Sunday with the new-and-improved Nagoya Women's Marathon.  Modernizing from a small, elite-only race to the world's largest women-only mass participation field of 15000 and an accompanying co-ed half-marathon, Nagoya retains its elite history with what may be the closest thing the country has seen to a straight-up single-race Olympic trial.  Fifteen elite Japanese women will be going for what are generally believed to be the two remaining Olympic team places, at least eight of them with a realistic chance of making the team.  Fuji TV will be broadcasting the race live nationwide starting at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, Mar. 11, and overseas viewers should be able to watch online for free via the lo-res splendor of Keyhole TV.  Twitter coverage via @JRNLive will unfortunately not be available for this race.

Races need an international field of at least five different nationalities to maintain IAAF label status, and Nagoya's organizers have duly complied with an overseas field of five, one athlete each from Kenya, Romania, Russia, the Ukraine and Lithuania.  Veteran medalists Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) and Lidia Simon (Romania) return for their perpetual Japanese invites along with Eastern Europeans Albina Mayorova (Russia), Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) and Rasa Drazdauskaite (Lithuania), but barring a dramatic improvement and remarkable closing ability like Ukrainian Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, it doesn't seem likely that any of the foreign competition will factor into what is generally expected to be a fast race.

Fifteen Japanese women are on the invited list to contend for the Olympic team.  General opinion has two places available, with Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) a lock after her 2:23:23 victory but Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) given little chance of making the Olympic team with only a 2:26:32.

The favorites look to be Daegu World Championships 5th-placer Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and Berlin World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei).  Akaba already had a solid chance for the London team on the strength of her Daegu performance but passed up a planned shot at a fast time at last month's Tokyo Marathon in order to try to improve her standings in the selection rankings in Nagoya.  To do that she will have to run fast and win.  Ozaki faltered in Daegu and lost out to Kizaki in the last stretch of Yokohama in November, so likewise she will need to be fast and in first to earn her spot on the team.

Athens Olympics gold medalist and national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and her NR predecessor Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) are scheduled to start, and given their sub-2:20 credentials they cannot be discounted.  Noguchi has not raced a marathon since 2007 due to a never-ending series of injuries and pushed her public goodwill to the limit over the winter with a series of highly-publicized domestic comeback runs only to withdraw at the last minute virtually every time, most recently at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon.  Nagoya is her absolute last chance to qualify for London.  Is she really ready?  Has the all the comeback talk just been a marketing ploy?  If she is even close to fit she is a leading contender.  Shibui has not raced well since winning the 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon, her recent marathon best a 2:29:03 at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon nearly ten minutes off her former NR.  But like Noguchi if she is even close to her old self she is the match of any of the other Japanese women.  It may be a bigger stretch, but she is Yoko Shibui.

At the next level are a handful of younger runners with the potential for a step up to the next level.  Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) was impressive in her 2:24:29 runner-up performance at last spring's edition of Yokohama to make the Daegu World Championships.  Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) was only 4th in both runnings of Yokohama last year but switched to Nagoya from Tokyo after a 1:10:32 PB to finish as the top Japanese woman at last month's Marugame Half-Marathon.  Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) was 2nd at Osaka 2011 to make the Daegu World Championships, beating veteran Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) in the selection process despite a faster PB performance by Fujinaga under difficult circumstances in London last year.  Both are possibilities in Nagoya, with Ito having soundly beaten Fujinaga in Marugame.

More distant possibilities are 2010 Nagoya winner Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido), 2009 Tokyo Marathon winner Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Univ. Ent.) and, elevated to winner of the 2011 Tokyo Marathon following the doping disqualification of Russian Tatyana Aryasova, Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal).  Although neither Kano nor Nasukawa have shown recent fitness, Higuchi ran well in Marugame, suggesting she may be the best bet of the three.

Rounding out the invited field are Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC), Akane Wakita (Team Toyota Jidoshokki), Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera).  Yoshida won January's Mari Tanigawa Half-Marathon in a solid 1:11:16 but ran poorly last month at the Ome 30 km.  A teammate of Ozaki's, Katsumata's debut was only a 2:31:10 but she showed potential for better and could be a darkhorse.  Miyauchi is the most talented of this group but has not yet been able to execute a strong marathon.

With the drama in the men's Olympic selection races coming with the team announcement on Mar. 12, Nagoya should be a dynamic cap to the winter Japanese marathon season and Olympic-qualifying series as the women's team lineup is likely to be clear once the second Japanese woman is across the finish line.

2012 Nagoya Women's Marathon Elite Field
Nagoya, Mar. 11, 2012
click here for complete elite field listing

1. Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) - 2:18:47 (Chicago 2001)
2. Lidia Simon (Romania) - 2:22:54 (Osaka Int'l 2000)
3. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:25:35 (Chicago 2003)
4. Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) - 2:28:34a (San Diego 2011)
5. Rasa Drazdauskaite (Lithuania) - 2:29:47 (Turin 2011)
11. Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 2:19:12 (Berlin 2005)
12. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:19:41 (Berlin 2004)
13. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:23:30 (Tokyo Int'l 2008)
14. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 2:24:09 (London 2011)
15. Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) - 2:24:27 (Tokyo Int'l 2008)
16. Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - 2:24:29 (Yokohama Int'l 2011)
17. Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:25:38 (Tokyo 2009)
18. Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) - 2:25:40 (London 2011)
19. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:26:55 (Osaka Int'l 2011)
20. Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:26:58 (Yokohama Int'l 2011)
21. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 2:28:49 (Tokyo 2011)
22. Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC) - 2:29:45 (Chicago 2010)
23. Akane Wakita (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 2:29:54 (Nagoya Int'l 2010)
24. Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:31:10 (Tokyo 2011)
25. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:33:36 (Nagoya Int'l 2010)

Pacers
51. Aniko Kalovics (Hungary)
52. Rene Kalmer (South Africa)
53. Sayo Nomura (Meijo Univ.)
54. Mao Kuroda (Team Yutaka Giken)

(c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…

Tokai University Outruns Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin to Win First Izumo Ekiden Title in Ten Years

Kanagawa's Tokai University outran two-time defending champion Aoyama Gakuin University to win the 2017 Izumo Ekiden, its first win at one of the Big Three university men's ekidens under head coach Hayashi Morozumi and Tokai's first Izumo title since 2007.

Formerly head coach at Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S. where he produced the fastest-ever all-Japanese high school team and standout Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) on a cross-country based training regimen, since taking over at Tokai in 2011 Morozumi has set about systematically developing the Tokai program into one with the greatest depth in Japanese university running. On paper AGU had a slight advantage over Tokai over the first half of Izumo's six stages, but with Tokai's second half runners, including its top two men Shota Onizuka and Hayato Seki, ranked at the top of their stages AGU needed a decent lead by halfway to stand a chance.

From the start it wasn't to be. In hot and sunny conditions Tokai&#…