Skip to main content

Weekend Road Racing Preview

Sunday's Saitama International Marathon leads a busy weekend of women's racing across the country. 4th in August's London World Championships marathon, last year's winner Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) returns to lead the tiny elite field of six internationals and two domestic women. Cheyech's strongest competition is Japan's Reia Iwade (Dome), the former under-20 marathon record holder who abruptly quit the Noritz corporate team earlier this year to go the solo route. Whether her new situation finds her ready to go remains to be seen. Close behind and maybe a more likely bet to stay with Daniel is Shitaye Habtegebrel (Ethiopia). Iwade, Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) and any other Japanese women in the general elite field will have the chance to qualify for Japan's 2020 Olympic Trials race if they go under 2:29:00.

Starting 30 minutes after the elite women, Saitama also features a coed mass participation field. Local poster boy Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) will run just a week after racing France's Nice-Cannes Marathon, just the second time in his career that he has run marathons on back-to-back weekends. With the 30 minute stagger putting the elite women out of range Kawauchi hopes to do better than his disappointing 2:15:02 in Nice. Anything better than 2:18:50 will add another course record to his resume. Watch the NTV broadcast of Saitama at 9:00 a.m. local time Sunday.

To the east in Fukushima, the East Japan Women's Ekiden is one of two major women's ekidens happening Sunday. A prelude to January's National Women's Ekiden, it features teams from the eighteen prefectures making up eastern Japan. Each team consists of the top junior high school, high school, university and corporate runners from that prefecture, with all the teams racing for regional supremacy. The Shizuoka team has pulled in the biggest pre-race headlines, its roster prominently featuring London World Championships marathoners Yuka Ando and Mao Kiyota, both of the Suzuki Hamamatsu AC team. East Japan will be broadcast live on Fuji TV starting at noon on Sunday, 10 minutes after the Saitama International Marathon broadcast ends.

Simultaneous with East Japan, the Fukui Super Ladies Ekiden pits top corporate, university and club teams against each other in a rare match-up. Newly-crowned national champion Meijo University is the heavy favorite, their toughest collegiate competition coming from Osaka Gakuin University, 4th at last month's Nationals, with last year's National Corporate Women's Ekiden 4th-placer Kyudenko leading the pros. Fukui TV's local broadcast goes out at noon Sunday.

Other high school, university and corporate league women will race 3000 m and 5000 m on the track Saturday at the Nittai University Time Trials meet. Men including 14 Japan-based Kenyans and former Aoyama Gakuin University and Komazawa University aces Tadashi Isshiki (GMO) and Ikuto Yufu (Fujitsu) will line up in the 10000 m A-heat, with other men including William Malel (Honda) and Ronald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) due to run one of Sunday's 40 heats of 5000 m. Also Sunday, runners from the Tokai UniversityAoyama Gakuin University and Komazawa University men's ekiden teams lead the field for the mass-participation Setagaya 246 Half Marathon in Tokyo. Continuing the qualification round for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships, the Kansai Region holds the 60th edition of its Corporate Men's Ekiden Championships. Likewise for the Chugoku Region.

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Ties Sub-2:20 World Record, Kato Crushes Course Record In Hofu Yomiuri Marathon Wins

Two weeks to the day after running 2:10:53 at the Fukuoka International Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) wrapped his 2017 with a win, running one of the few negative splits of his career to win the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon for the third time in 2:10:03. Women's winner Misako Kato (Kyudenko), a 1:09:49 half marathon, soloed an almost perfectly paced 2:28:12 to take 3 minutes off her PB and 7 1/2 minutes off the course record. Further back, Rio Paralympics T12 marathon silver medalist Misato Michishita broke the own world record in her category with a time of 2:56:14.

Watch a complete replay of the race here.


Pacers Taiga Ito and Melaku Abera, both of whom ran Fukuoka alongside Kawauchi, were tasked with taking the field out in 3:06/km, 2:10:48 pace. Pre-race Kawauchi told JRN, "If they'd run 3:04 I ccoul definitely, 100%, go faster than I did in Fukuoka. In cold and windy conditions things went in his favor in the early going with 5 and 10 km splits of 15:19 …

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2017 race results: Jan. 8: Ikinoshima Half Marathon, Nagasaki: 1:06:35 - 1st
Jan. 15: Okukuma Half Marathon, Kumamoto: 1:04:17 - 6th
Jan. 29: Okumusashi Ekiden Third Stage (4.3 km), Saitama: 13:16 - 9th
Feb. 5: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama: 36:59 - 3rd
Feb. 12: Ehime Marathon, Ehime: 2:09:54 - 1st - CR
Feb. 26: Soja Kibiji Half Marathon,  Okayama: 1:04:52 - 2nd
Mar. 5: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto: 1:03:19 - 3rd
Mar. 12: Tanegashima Rocket Half Marathon, Kagoshima: 1:04:43 - 1st - CR
Mar. 19: Kuki Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:05:03 - 1st - CR
Mar. 26: Kamisato Machi Kenmu Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:05:33 - 1st - CR
Apr. 2: Daegu International Marathon, South Korea: 2:13:04 - 6th
Apr. 23: Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, Gifu: 1:04:06 - 15th
Apr. 30: Kawauchi no Sato Kaeru Half Marathon, Fukushima: 1:05:31 - 1st - CR
May 7: Prague Marathon, Czech Republic: 2:10:13 - 6th
May 14: Sendai International Half Marathon, Miyagi: 1:03:29 - 11th
May 28:…

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…