Skip to main content

Kipruto, Worku, Gitau and Kawauchi - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

It’s still early in the year, but the Japanese men’s major domestic spring marathon season is already reaching its peak with Sunday’s Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Lake Biwa was Japan’s first IAAF gold label marathon and is one of its oldest continuous races, but with last weekend’s Tokyo Marathon having joined the Fukuoka International Marathon in 2:05 course record territory it is due for an improvement on Wilson Kipsang’s 2:06:13 course record. To get there it has enlisted defending champion and Daegu World Championships silver medalist Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) and former junior world record holder Bazu Worku (Ethiopia), both with 2:05 bests. The pair’s duel, or teamwork, up front should be one of this year’s main story lines.

Another is Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) and his quest for a 2:07. Kawauchi is the lone A-list Japanese man in the field this year, at Lake Biwa for the sole purpose of joining Japan’s sub-2:08 club. Since his world record-setting pair of 2:09 marathons in December he has mostly focused on shorter distances, from 5 km ekiden stages to half marathons, running his best times on some of his regular early-season race courses and a 10-mile PB before scorching an almost laughable 2:10:14 course record completely solo at the amateur-level Kumamoto Castle Marathon three weeks ago, twelve minutes ahead of 2nd place. Everybody seems to think he’s ready to do it, including Kawauchi. “If I can run like I did in Kumamoto,” he told JRN, “then I know 2:07 is achievable.” If Kipruto and Worku go out at 2:05 pace it’s debatable whether Kawauchi will roll with them, but regardless he should have company from at least 2012 Fukuoks winner Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel), holder of a 2:06:58 best.  From there it’s a bit of a gap to a solid pack at the 2:08-2:11 level. Formerly Japan-based Kenyan James Mwangi leads at that level with a 2:08:38 best, followed by Japan’s Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) Moroccan Hafid Chani and Qatari Essa Ismail Rashed.

Which leads to the third main story line, a place on the 2014 Asian Games marathon team at stake for the top Japanese men, Oda, six 2:10 men led by the very promising Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda),  second-time marathoners Tomohiro Tanigawa (Team Konica Minolta) and Muryo Takase (Team Nissin Shokuhin), the debuting Tatsunori Hamasaki (Team Komori Corp.) and Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) and many more will be gunning to at least equal the five Japanese men who ran between 2:08:09 and 2:09:29 in Tokyo last weekend.  The fastest of the Tokyo men, Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) leads the Asian Games team consideration, followed by Kawauchi’s 2:09:05 from Fukuoka. Federation officials have said that although they hope to see him run 2:06:30 Kawauchi’s result in Lake Biwa will not impact his standing, meaning that there should be a solid group behind him competing for consideration.  If all goes well we’ll see a replay of the historic race in Tokyo.

There are also plenty of interesting darkhorses who could factor into any of the three main plots.  Particularly worth keeping an eye on are Agato Yashin Hassan (Ethiopia/Team Chuo Hatsujo), making his debut off a strong ekiden season, Rio World Half 5th-placer Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), in good shape after an on-target run at the Marugame Half last month, and Vibram-wearing 2011 International Chiba Ekiden Third Stage winner Harry Summers (Australia).

Lake Biwa will be broadcast live and commercial-free nationwide by NHK beginning at 12:15 p.m on Sunday, Mar. 2. The broadcast may be available locally overseas, with online streaming potentially available on a variety of online streaming sites. Keyhole TV is another option, with more reliable streaming available with a premium key.  JRN will also cover the race live on Twitter via the @JRNLive feed.

Lake Biwa is not the only elite-level marathon in Japan this weekend. The long-running Shizuoka Sunpu Half Marathon has switched names and formats this year to become the Shizuoka Marathon, a mass-participation full marathon format with a small elite field. 2:11:15 runner Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), 2nd behind Kawauchi at last summer’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon, leads the men’s field with his teammate Yuki Sakata (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) making her debut in the women's race.

69th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Field Highlights
Otsu, Shiga, Mar. 2, 2014
click here for complete field listing

Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) - 2:05:13 (Rotterdam 2010)
Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) - 2:05:25 (Berlin 2010)
Joseph Gitau (Kenya/Team JFE Steel) - 2:06:58 (Fukuoka 2012)
Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:08:14 (Seoul 2013)
James Mwangi (Kenya) - 2:08:38 (Fukuoka 2011)
Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 2:09:03 (Tokyo 2011)
Hafid Chani (Morocco) - 2:09:11 (London 2013)
Essa Ismail Rashed (Qatar) - 2:09:22 (Amsterdam 2012)
Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) - 2:10:29 (Chicago 2013)
Kazuki Ikenaga (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:10:44 (Lake Biwa 2008)
Satoshi Yoshii (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:10:45 (Lake Biwa 2011)
Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - 2:10:51 (Lake Biwa 2010)
Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.) - 2:10:53 (Beppu-Oita 2009)
Ryosuke Fukuyama (Team Honda) - 2:10:59 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:11:28 (Tokyo 2013)
Solonei Da Silva (Brazil) - 2:11:32 (Padova 2011)
Noritaka Fujiyama (Team Sumitomo Denko) - 2:11:34 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:12:31 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Kazuo Ietani (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 2:12:37 (Tokyo Int'l 2001)
Tatsunari Hirayama (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:12:38 (Nobeoka 2013)
Wirimai Juwawo (Zimbabwe) - 2:12:38 (Danzhou 2010)
Yoshiki Otsuka (Team Aichi Seiko) - 2:12:51 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Masanori Ishida (Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 2:13:07 (Beppu-Oita 2013)
Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) - 2:13:12 (Hofu 2013)
Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 2:13:22 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Raul Pacheco (Peru) - 2:13:37 (Chunchon 2010)
Takanori Ide (Team Kyudenko) - 2:13:41 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Shingo Igarashi (Team Subaru) - 2:13:46 (Nobeoka 2011)
Noriaki Takahashi (DeNA RC) - 2:14:13 (Gold Coast 2011)
Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:14:23 (Tokyo 2009)
Makoto Harada (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:14:40 (Tokyo 2013)
Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:14:45 (Hokkaido 2013)
Shinji Suzuki (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 2:15:12 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Yasushi Yamamoto (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:15:15 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Atsushi Hasegawa (Team Subaru) - 2:15:25 (Paris 2013)
Osamu Ibata (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:15:41 (Tokyo 2011)

Trying to get it right
Tomohiro Tanigawa (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:16:57 (Boston 2013)
Muryo Takase (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:20:49 (Lake Biwa 2012)
Hideto Takamine (Team Fujitsu) - 2:21:26 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Rui Yonezawa (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:24:13 (Beppu-Oita 2013)

Debut
Tatsunori Hamasaki (Team Komori Corp.) - 1:01:45 (Marugame Half 2012)
Masamichi Shinozaki (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:01:58 (Marugame Half 2012)
Shuji Yoshikawa (Team Kyudenko) - 1:01:58 (Marugame Half 2012)
Kenta Inuma (Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 1:02:09 (Marugame Half 2012)
Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:02:30 (Marugame Half 2014)
Yuki Takamiya (Team Yakult) - 1:02:31 (Marugame Half 2013)
Taichi Takase (Team JFE Steel) - 1:02:32 (Marugame Half 2014)
Takuji Morimoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:02:38 (Corporate Half 2012)
Naohiro Yamada (Team YKK) - 1:02:40 (Marugame Half 2013)
Harry Summers (Australia) - 1:03:34 (Brisbane 2012)
Agato Yashin Hassan (Ethiopia/Team Chuo Hatsujo) - 27:46.35 (Hachioji Distance 2013)

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Nakamoto and Kawauchi to Run Boston

Japan's Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) will run the 2018 Boston Marathon as part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team. Kawauchi holds world records for everything from most career sub-2:12 marathons to most sub-2:20, while Nakamoto is Japan's best championships marathoner of modern times with four top 10 finishes at the Olympics and World Championships.

Longtime rivals, their duel at the 2013 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon was one of the classics of Japanese marathoning, both running sub-2:09 PBs as Kawauchi set a still-standing course record of 2:08:15. The pair has a 3-3 record in the marathon so far, their most recent meeting coming at last summer's London World Championships where Kawauchi ran Nakamoto down in the last kilometer to take 9th. Boston will be their 7th and likely final face-off.

Our 2018 #BostonMarathon International Elite Field includes 46 of the world’s best marathoners from 13 countries. Watch to see the …