Skip to main content

Osaka Leads Weekend Action

Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon leads the way in Japanese road action this weekend. With qualification spots in the MGC Race 2020 Olympic Trials at stake for the home field there are three main questions:

  1. Can straight-arm specialist Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) duplicate her 2:21:36 debut in Nagoya last year after running badly at the London World Championships?
  2. Can Honami Maeda (Tenmaya), the only Japanese woman to have qualified for the MGC Race so far, run a fast marathon for real after conquering the heat to win August's Hokkaido Marathon in 2:28:48?
  3. What can last year's 10000 m national champion Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) do in her debut?
Eunice Jeptoo (Kenya) tops the international list with a 2:26:13 in Eindhoven last year, with the debuting Gotytom Gebreslase (Ethiopia) the wildcard, her best mark at distance a 49:56 at last year's Utica Boilermaker 15 km. 

Osaka will be broadcast live Sunday by Fuji TV starting at noon local time. A free live stream should be available here. For a detailed field listing click here. This year will also mark the 31st and final year that local heroes The Alfee have written and recording a theme song for Osaka, always a highlight of its broadcast.

Simultaneously with Osaka, the coed Osaka Half Marathon may sneak its way into the TV broadcast. If not, it's being streamed live here and on Youtube. Look for London World Champs men's 10th placer Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) in a tuneup run for April's Boston Marathon.

Also Sunday is the 66th running one of Japan's biggest marathons, the Katsuta Marathon. Every year top men and women from Katsuta end up at the Boston Marathon, Katsuta course record setter Shingo Igarashi (Josai Univ. Staff) going so far as to frontrun the first half of Boston in 2016 before suffering a stress fracture mid-race. Katsuta also features Japan's first fast road 10 km of the year.

In post-season ekiden action, a mix of central Japan corporate men's teams, universities and club teams will face off at the 81st running of the Chugoku Yamaguchi Ekiden. Live splits will be available here

Northwest of Tokyo, more top club and university teams will race the 64th Okumusashi Ekiden. A regular at Okumusashi with the Saitama Prefectural Government, London World Championships men's marathon 9th placer Yuki Kawauchi will take a rare turn on the 9.9 km First Stage. This year Cambridge University will field an alumni team for the first time. With a 28:45.48 best for 10000 m from Stanford last year Matt Leach will face Kawauchi for Cambridge on the opening leg. JRN will be on-site supporting Cambridge and covering the race live.

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved


Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi and Kiyara Live Up to Expectations With Wan Jin Shi Wins

Returning to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon after having first run it in 2016, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:14:12 to score his fourth-straight marathon win in a third-straight wire-to-wire solo performance. Choosing the hilly Wan Jin Shi Marathon as his final main tuneup for next month's Boston Marathon, Kawauchi came out swinging, leading an all-African pack of seven by almost 10 seconds after the tough uphill opening 5 km and stretching that out to over two minutes by the turnaround point at halfway.

On track to break the 2:13:05 course record by more than two minutes. under sunny skies with temperatures climbing to 22C and nearly 80% humidity Kawauchi began to slow incrementally. Behind him, Johnstone Kibet Maiyo (Kenya) and Aredome Tiuyay Degefa (Ethiopia) separated from the chase pack and began to push each other in pursuit of the top spot. With every 5 km split the gap to Kawauchi narrowed. At 40 km Maiyo threw down to get rid of Degefa, blasting the dow…

Kawauchi and Kiyara Headline Wan Jin Shi Marathon

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returns to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon this Sunday for his marathon of the post-Yuta Shitara era. The runner-up in Wan Jin Shi in 2016, Kawauchi is ranked #1 in the field and comes to Wan Jin Shi with wins in his last three marathons but faces a solid field including fellow sub-2:10 man Peter Kiplagat Sitenei, last year's runner-up Tsegaye Debele (Ethiopia), and the only man to beat him last time around, 2016 winner and course record holder William Chebon Chebor (Kenya). Kawauchi plans to use the hilly race as a tune-up for his main marathon of the spring season, April's Boston Marathon.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rael Kiyara Nguriatukei (Kenya), winner of the 2012 Hamburg Marathon before being stripped of her title and suspended for a positive post-race test for norandrosterone, has the fastest recent time in the women's field with a 2:26:22 winning time at last year's Chongqing Marathon. Close behind is Chemtai …

Japan Names Asian Games Marathon Team

On Mar. 16 the JAAF announced the Japanese marathon team for this August's Jakarta Asian Games. Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) and Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) make up the men's squad, with Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) and Hanae Tanaka (Shiseido) named to the women's team.

A member of the Japanese national team for last summer's London World Championships, Inoue ran an all-time Japanese #4 time of 2:06:54 at February's Tokyo Marathon, the 2nd-placing Japnaese man behind national record setter Yuta Shitara (Honda). Sonoda ran a PB of 2:09:34 to finish in the top Japanese position at 2nd overall earlier in February at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.

The silver medalist at November's Asian Championships marathon, Nogami was 5th earlier this month at the Nagoya Women's Marathon in a PB of 2:26:33. Tanaka was next behind her in Nagoya in 6th in 2:27:40, the only member of the Asian Games team not to have yet qualified for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials race. A meda…