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London on the Line - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

The four-ring circus surrounding selection for the Japanese men's London World Championships marathon team pitches its final tent this Sunday at the 72nd edition of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  Coming fresh in the wake of last weekend's record-breaking Tokyo Marathon Lake Biwa may seem like a lesser afterthought, but for certain Japanese men and for the fans it's everything.

Up front there's a quality international field led by 2015 Beijing World Championships bronze medalist Munyo Solomon Mutai (Uganda), 2015 Tokyo Marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse (Ethiopia), 2015 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Tewelde Estifanos (Eritrea), 2014~15 Madrid Marathon winner Ezekiel Kiptoo Chebii (Kenya), 2013 Lake Biwa winner and Daegu World Champs silver medalist Vincent Kipruto (Kenya), and, in his debut, Japan-based Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/Team JFE Steel), the former successor to Bedan Karoki as the king of Hiroshima's Sera H.S. ekiden team.

For the Japanese men, it's all about running faster than 2:09:11.  This time around the JAAF has opted for four selection races to pick its three men for the London team, the A-tier Fukuoka International, Tokyo and Lake Biwa, and the B-tier Beppu-Oita.  The three main contenders to emerge in the three races to date are:

  • Hiroto Inoue (Team MHPS) - 2:08:22 PB, Tokyo Marathon, 8th
  • Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:11, Fukuoka International Marathon, 3rd
  • Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:09:32, Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, 1st

It's an interesting inverse relationship among the three between time, race level, and placing.  Inoue is definitely in.  If anyone in Lake Biwa betters Kawauchi's time they will almost definitely join Inoue, leaving the third spot up to the politics of a JAAF decision between Kawauchi and Nakamoto, or even the second Japanese man in Lake Biwa if he's fast enough.

And there are people on the entry list who could do it.  Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) with a 2:08:56 in Fukuoka 2015.  His Rio teammate Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda), edging into his late 30s but still on top of his game with a 2:09:25 in Lake Biwa last year.  Tadashi Isshiki, star senior at Hakone Ekiden champ Aoyama Gakuin University, running the marathon for the second time.  Sub-61 half marathoner Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota) likewise in his second marathon after a 2:11:50 debut.  2014 Incheon Asian Games silver medalist Kohei Matsumura (Team MHPS), a training partner of Inoue's with a 2:08:09 best.  Debuting 2017 New Year Ekiden Sixth Stage record breaker Hiroshi Ichida (Team Asahi Kasei).  Plenty more at the 2:10~12 level who could break through.

Whatever the outcome, for the home crowd it's a high stakes race with major domestic interest.  NHK is broadcasting the race nationwide live and commercial-free, and in its other races this season it has streamed four channels of race video on its race website for free.  With any luck that'll be the case again this Sunday, but as a backup try mov3.co to stream the NHK TV broadcast starting at 12:30 p.m. local time.  JRN will also cover the race live on Twitter @JRNLive.

72nd Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon
Elite Field Highlights
Otsu, Shiga, 3/5/17
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best within last three years except where noted

Endeshaw Negesse (Ethiopia) - 2:06:00 (Tokyo 2015)
Ezekiel Kiptoo Chebii (Kenya) - 2:06:07 (Amsterdam 2016)
Satoru Sasaki (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:08:56 (Fukuoka Int'l 2015)
Tewelde Estifanos (Eritrea) - 2:09:16 (Frankfurt 2015)
Suehiro Ishikawa (Japan/Honda) - 2:09:25 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Yihuniligh Adane (Ethiopia) - 2:09:48 (Dubai 2016)
Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) - 2:09:54 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Hayato Sonoda (Japan/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:10:40 (Fukuoka Int'l 2016)
Munyo Solomon Mutai (Uganda) - 2:10:42 (Hannover 2015)
Kazuki Tomaru (Japan/Toyota) - 2:11:25 (Berlin 2014)
Tomoyuki Morita (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:11:41 (Tokyo 2015)
Tadashi Isshiki (Japan/Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 2:11:45 (Tokyo 2016)
Chihiro Miyawaki (Japan/Toyota) - 2:11:50 (Tokyo 2014)
Rui Yonezawa (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:11:59 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Taiki Yoshimura (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:19 (Hofu 2016)
Hiroki Yamagishi (Japan/GMO) - 2:12:27 (Tokyo 2016)
Muryo Takase (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:12:31 (Lake Biwa 2014)
Kohei Matsumura (Japan/MHPS) - 2:12:39 (Incheon 2014)
Norikazu Kato (Japan/Yakult) - 2:13:34 (Nobeoka 2015)
Yu Chiba (Japan/Honda) - 2:13:44 (Riga 2014)
Byron Piedra (Ecuador) - 2:14:12 (Rio de Janeiro 2016)
Aritaka Kajiwara (Japan/Atsugi T&F Assoc.) - 2:14:27 (Fukuoka Int'l 2016)
Masanori Sakai (Japan/Kyudenko) - 2:14:52 (Berlin 2015)
Takayuki Matsumiya (Japan/Aichi Seiko) - 2:14:58 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Hideaki Tamura (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:15:00 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Mourad Maroufit (Morocco) - 2:15:24 (Guangzhou 2016)
Takumi Kiyotani (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:15:31 (Lake Biwa 2015)
Koshi Watanabe (Japan/Subaru) - 2:15:36 (Osaka 2016)
Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:15:42 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Tyler Andrews (U.S.A.) - 2:15:52 (Albany 2016)
Hiroyuki Horibata (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:08:24 (Fukuoka Int'l 2012)

Debut
Charles Ndirangu (Kenya/JFE Steel) - 1:00:18 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
El Hassan El Abbassi (Bahrain) - 1:02:16 (Marrakech Half 2016)
Keita Baba (Japan/Honda) - 1:02:23 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Hiroshi Ichida (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:25 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Shuji Matsuo (Japan/Chudenko) - 1:02:25 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Yuta Oikawa (Japan/YKK) - 1:02:40 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2016)
Ryuji Okada (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:02:48 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Akinobu Murasawa (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 59:08 (Yosenkai 20 km 2009)

© 2017 Brett Larner
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