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Akaba, Davila and Watanabe Headline 32nd Running of Sanyo Women's Road Race

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The invited athlete list for Japan's last major road race of the year, the 32nd Sanyo Women's Road Race on Dec. 23 in Okayama, was released by race organisers on Nov. 30. Coinciding with main sponsor Sanyo Newspapers' 135th anniversary, the Yuko Arimori Cup half marathon division at the Sanyo Women's Road Race will for the first time be a selection race for the World Half Marathon Championships national team, with next year's World Half due to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark next March.

Targeting the first three-peat in Sanyo history, 2013 National Corporate Half Marathon champion Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) heads the invited field along with 2013 Hokkaido Marathon winner Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) and, from overseas, London Olympian Desiree Davila (U.S.A.).  Others in the half  marathon include past World Championships marathoners Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease), 23-year-old local Tenmaya corporate team runners Aki Odagiri and Rei Ohara and veterans Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) and Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz).

In the Kinue Hitomi Cup 10 km division, Felista Wanjugu (Kenya/Team Universal Entertainment) lends international quality to help make this year one of the most competitive on record.  Facing here are Tenmaya's 19-year-old great hope, Akari Ota, local Kojokan H.S. graduate Katsuki Suga (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) and former national champion Ritsumeikan University ace Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido).

Akaba has announced that she will retire following January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, making Sanyo one of her final races.  In her absence, other top-placing Japanese athletes in Sanyo will have a chance to earn one of the five places available on the World Half team.  Along with Sanyo, top finishers in last summer's National Championships 10000 m and next February's National Corporate Half Marathon Championships will be given consideration for team nomination.

The race starts and finishes at Concourse Stadium in Okayama.  The half marathon gets underway at 10:00 a.m., with the 10 km division starting at 10:15.


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