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With Hokkaido Marathon Wins Murasawa and Maeda Become First to Qualify for 2020 Olympic Trials Race

Akinobu Murasawa (Nissin Shokuhin) and Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) became the first athletes to qualify for the new MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials event, clearing the JAAF's hoops with PB runs in heat to win the 2017 Hokkaido Marathon.

One of the most popular runners to come out of the current boom in university men's ekiden running, Murasawa had an unsuccessful marathon debut at Lake Biwa in March, up front until late but fading to 28th in 2:17:51. This time he stayed in the front pack through the slow opening going, ignoring a move by Shingo Igarahi (Josai Univ. Coaching Staff) and Kenichi Jiromaru (Raffine Coaching Staff) around the halfway point that put them over 30 seconds ahead.

Part of a group of five who set off in pursuit at 30 km, Murasawa moved into the top spot just before 40 km and held it all the way to the finish to win in 2:14:48. As the first race at which Japanese men could qualify for the JAAF's new single-trial 2020 Olympic selection event Hokkaido's winner had to go sub-2:15:00 to earn his place, and with Murasawa clearing that standard his place in the winter 2019-20 MGC trials race is assured.


The women's race saw a pack of four head out together just under 2:28:00 pace, well clear of the 2:32:00 time standard for the winner to make the MGC Race qualifying cut. Just past 25 km Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) make a break for it, opening a lead of over 20 seconds by 30 km, but it was a little too  much too soon. Maeda, like Murasawa running her second marathon after a so-so debut earlier this year, quickly reeled her in and took over, opening a 20-second-plus lead of her own by 35 km and never looking back.

With a 2:28:48 PB for the win, a rare sub-2:30 clocking in Hokkaido, Maeda easily cleared the MGC Race qualifying standard, joining Murasawa as the first to enter the ranks of what is expected to be a small field of 10~20 men and women each in the official trials race for what is bound to be one of the toughest and highest pressure teams to make at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


31st Hokkaido Marathon

Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/27/17

Women
1. Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) - 2:28:48 - PB
2. Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) - 2:30:11
3. Hanae Tanaka (Daiichi Seimei) - 2:32:16
4. Yuko Mizuguchi (Denso) - 2:34:04
5. Kaho Tanaka (Daiichi Seimei) - 2:34:45 - debut
6. Yurie Doi (Fujitsu) - 2:36:28 - PB
7. Mami Onuki (Sysmex) - 2:37:15 - debut
8. Chika Ihara (Higo Ginko) - 2:38:47 - debut
9. Mai Nagaoka (Sysmex) - 2:41:15 - PB
10. Sakie Arai (Higo Ginko) - 2:42:31
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DNF - Miharu Shimokado (Nitori)

Men
1. Akinobu Murasawa (Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:14:48 - PB
2. Taiki Yoshimura (Asahi Kasei) - 2:15:04
3. Jo Fukuda (Nishitetsu) - 2:15:11 - PB
4. Fumihiro Maruyama (Asahi Kasei) - 2:15:21
5. Shingo Igarashi (Josai Univ Coaching Staff) - 2:15:41
6. Tatsunori Hamasaki (Nanjo City Hall) - 2:16:18
7. Masanori Sakai (Kyudenko) - 2:16:26
8. Kenta Kitazawa (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 2:16:52 - PB
9. Kansuke Morihashi (Raffine) - 2:17:35
10.  Masaharu Amano (NTN) - 2:17:48 - debut

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
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Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
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