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Osaka Marathon Elite Field

One of the world's ten biggest marathons, in its six runnings to date the Osaka Marathon has continued to avoid the addition of a world-class elite field of the same caliber as at equivalently-sized races like Tokyo, Berlin and Boston. In place of doling out cash to pros, Osaka's women's field has developed into a sort of national championship race for amateur women.

In the field this year are six, probably all six, of the amateur Japan women to have broken 2:40 in the last three years. Last year's top three, Yoshiko Sakamoto (F.O.R.), Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) and Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) lead the way at the 2:36 +/- level, with a second trio of Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo), Mitsuko Ino (R2 Nishin Nihon) and Chika Tawara (RxL) all around the 2:39 level.

Last year's winner Sakamoto and 3rd placer Yoshimatsu squared off in September at Germany's Volksbank Muenster Marathon, Yoshimatsu tying Sakamoto's Osaka winning time of 2:36:02 to take 3rd over two minutes ahead of Sakamoto. Kinoshita, who spent most of the first half of the year recovering from injury, won the first running of the Matsumoto Marathon in early October as a tuneup for Osaka. The only one of the top six still in her 20s, Imada looks like the biggest threat to the front group as she continues to develop as a marathoner.

The men's race features three Eritreans, Kaleab Ghilagabr the heavy favorite to win with a 2:12:22 best in Riga two years ago. Yuma Morii (SGH Group) is the only Japanese man in the field to have broken 2:20 in the last three years, but with a 2:18:55 best there's not much chance he'll be in competition with Ghilagabr. #3-ranked Satoru Kasuya (Toyota Boshoku) ran 2:11:17 in 2011 but was later diagnosed with a brain tumor which proved nearly fatal. Still on the comeback, his recent best is only 2:20:38 in Tokyo last year. 2016 100 km world champion Hideaki Yamauchi (Japan/Hamamatsu Hotonics) and interesting independent Hideyuki Ikegami (Japan/Kyoto T&F Assoc.) are also in the field.

7th Osaka Marathon Elite Field
Osaka, 11/26/17
click here for field announcement
times listed are best in last three years except where noted

Hisae Yoshimatsu (Japan/Shunan City Hall) - 2:35:46 (Hofu 2015)
Yumiko Kinoshita (Japan/SWAC) - 2:35:49 (Tokyo 2015)
Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/F.O.R.) - 2:36:02 (Osaka 2016)
Marie Imada (Japan/Iwatani Sangyo) - 2:38:51 (Kitakyushu 2017)
Mistuko Ino (Japan/R2 Nishi Nihon) - 2:39:07 (Tokushima 2017)
Chika Tawara (Japan/RxL) - 2:39:44 (Osaka 2015)
Haruka Yamaguchi (Japan/AC Kita) - 2:40:31 (Beppu-Oita 2017)
Azusa Nojiri (Japan/Raffine) - 2:42:16 (Osaka Int'l 2015)
Felista Wanjugu (Kenya) - 2:44:00 (Zhengzhou 2016)

Kaleab Ghilagabr (Eritrea) - 2:12:22 (Riga 2015)
Yuma Morii (Japan/SGH Group) - 2:18:55 (Nobeoka 2017)
Satoru Kasuya (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 2:20:38 (Tokyo 2016)
Tesfamariam Gashazghi (Eritrea) - 2:20:57 (Asmara 2017)
Hideaki Yamauchi (Japan/Hamamatsu Hotonics) - 2:22:48 (Shizuoka 2016)
Kota Shinjo (Japan/NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:22:56 (Hokkaido 2016)
Fikadu Kibreab (Eritrea) - 2:23:25 (Asmara 2017)
Tadashi Horikoshi (Japan/NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:27:42 (London IPC 2015)
Hideyuki Ikegami (Japan/Kyoto T&F Assoc.) - 2:30:15 (Hannover 2017)

text and photo © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved


Metts said…
Its good to see a large marathon that doesn't focus on the EA elites. It seems these days so many marathons are dominated by that group. Hope Osaka can keep its focus on what is does best now. The reason I love Japan and marathons is the large number of non elites that this race attracts.

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