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Osako and Murayama Twins Lead National Record Shot at Marugame Half

by Brett Larner
click here for women's field listing

As strong as its women's field looks, the men's field for the Feb. 5 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is something else.  The half marathon is the sweet spot of Japanese training, the distance that the top university men focus on for the Hakone Ekiden and the best corporate men at the New Year Ekiden national championships.  The official half marathon Japanese national record is 1:00:25 by Atsushi Sato at the 2007 World Half Marathon, but it's pretty common to see the top men running that kind of time on the longest half marathonish-length stages at both Hakone and New Year.  If they all got together, focused, and put the same intensity and drive into a serious half marathon the national record would surely fall, and maybe even the hour mark.  This year's Marugame looks like the best chance to date for that to happen.

Up front: 59:01 man Kenneth Kipkemoi and once-upon-a-time sub-59 man Atsedu Tsegay of Ethiopia.  Positioned just ahead of the Japanese NR: Abraham Kipyatich of Kenya and wunderkind Callum Hawkins of Great Britain.  Right at the level of the current generation of Japan's best: Bernard Kimanyi and Dominic Nyairo of Kenya.  And following them, most of the very best Japan has to offer:

  • 5000 m NR holder Suguru Osako, a member of the Nike Oregon Project with a 1:01:47 Asian junior record half marathon debut and a 1:01:10 equivalent at Hakone.
  • 10000 m NR holder Kota Murayama in his serious half marathon debut, with a 58:26 for 20 km to his name giving him mid-1:01 credentials.
  • His twin brother Kenta Murayama with a 1:00:50 best in Marugame in 2014.
  • Keita Shitara, 1:01:12 at the 2015 National Corporate Half.
  • His twin brother Yuta Shitara, 1:01:48 at the New York Half at age 20 and a 1:00:11 equivalent at last year's New Year Ekiden.
  • Daichi Kamino, 1:01:21 in Marugame two years ago following a spectacular uphill run on Hakone's Fifth Stage and just as ascendant as a young corporate runner.
  • Chihiro Miyawaki, 1:00:53 to win the 2012 National Corporate Half.

There are only two or three names missing from an otherwise perfect collection of Japanese runners to collectively go for the national record, sure to get further support from the massive number of 62 minute-range runners just behind them.  Kenta Murayama told JRN that he and Kota will be going for a time under 1:00:30, at worst under 1:00:50, and the presence of Osako, a training partner of Galen Rupp who was scheduled to go for the U.S.A. NR last weekend, suggests big things.  Marugame usually has ideal weather that contributes to world record-setting depth at quality.  The current forecast calls for cloudy skies and race time temperatures between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius, a little on the cold side but still within a range that would allow for something special.

71st Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon
Men’s Elite Field Highlights
Marugame, Kagawa, 2/5/17
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best within last three years except where noted

Kenneth Kipkemoi (Kenya) – 59:01 (Valencia 2014)
Abraham Kipyatich (Kenya) – 1:00:03 (Berlin 2015)
Callum Hawkins (Great Britain) – 1:00:24 (Glasgow 2016)
Bernard Kimanyi (Kenya/Yakult) – 1:00:41 (Den Haag 2015)
Dominic Nyairo (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) – 1:00:50 (Marugame 2016)
Kenta Murayama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) – 1:00:50 (Marugame 2014)
Keita Shitara (Japan/Konica Minolta) – 1:01:12 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Fabiano Sulle (Tanzania) – 1:01:19 (Marugame 2016)
Daichi Kamino (Japan/Konica Minolta) – 1:01:21 (Marugame 2015)
Suguru Osako (Japan/NOP) – 1:01:47 (Ageo City 2010)
Kenta Ueda (Japan/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1 02:01 (Ageo City 2016)
Koki Takada (Japan/Sumitomo Denko) – 1:02:02 (Ageo City 2014)
Takashi Ichida (Japan/Asahi Kasei) – 1:02:03 (Ageo City 2014)
Akira Aizawa (Japan/Toyo Univ.) – 1:02:05 (Ageo City 2016)
Keita Shioya (Japan/Subaru) – 1:02:11 (Marugame 2016)
Chihiro Miyawaki (Japan/Toyota) – 1:02:18 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Masaya Taguchi (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:19 (Marugame 2016)
Kenya Sonoda (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) – 1:02:20 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Kazuki Tamura (Japan/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) – 1:02:22 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Shuji Matsuo (Japan/Kyudenko) – 1:02:25 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Gen Hachisuka (Japan/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:26 (Marugame 2015)
Shusei Ohashi (Japan/Raffine) – 1:02:27 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Daiki Taguchi (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:02:30 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2014)
Yuki Oshikawa (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) – 1:02:30 (Marugame 2014)
Atsedu Tsegay (Ethiopia) – 1:02:39 (Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon 2015)
Wataru Ueno (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:39 (Marugame 2014)
Yusuke Nishiyama (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) – 1:02:43 (Nat’l Univ. Half 2015)
Natsuki Terada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) – 1:02:43 (Marugame 2015)
Masaru Aoki (Japan/Kanebo) – 1:02:45 (Nat’l Corp. Half 2015)
Rei Omori (Japan/Chuo Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:47 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Tomoki Ota (Japan/Waseda Univ.) - 1:02:48 (Ageo City 2016)
Ryuji Okada (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:48 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Suehiro Ishikawa (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:49 (Marugame 2016)
Shota Inoue (Japan/Toyota) – 1:02:49 (Marugame 2015)
Takuya Noguchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) – 1:02:50 (Marugame 2014)
Taiga Machizawa (Japan/Chuo Univ.) - 1:02:52 (Nat'l  Univ. Half 2015)
Yuta Shitara (Japan/Honda) – 1:02:52 (Marugame 2015)
Hideaki Sumiyoshi (Japan/Kokushikan Univ.) - 1:02:53 (Marugame 2016)
Chiharu Takada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) – 1:02:58 (Marugame 2016)

20 km
Kota Murayama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) – 58:26 (Yosenkai 20km 2014)
Kazuya Shiojiri (Japan/Juntendo Univ.) – 59:36 (Takashimdaira 20km 2016)

Debut
Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya/Hitachi Butsuryu) – 27:11.23 (Nittai Univ. 2016)

© 2017 Brett Larner
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Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
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