16 JAN 2013 General News Marugame, Japan

Kirui and Gelana lead the entries for Marugame Half

Abel Kirui of Kenya crosses the Marathon finish line to win the gold medal and set a Championship Record of 2:06:54 at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin (Getty Images)Abel Kirui of Kenya crosses the Marathon finish line to win the gold medal and set a Championship Record of 2:06:54 at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin (Getty Images) © Copyright

Two-time World Marathon champion Abel Kirui and Olympic Marathon champion Tiki Gelana will be the leading athletes at the Kagawa Marugame Half-marathon – an IAAF Silver Label Road Race – on February 3.

It will be Kirui’s first appearance at the Marugame Half-marathon, and the Olympic silver medallist will be keen to break his 60:11 personal best for 13.1miles, which dates back to 2007.

Fellow Kenyans Daniel Gitau, Jacob Wanjuki and Benjamin Gandu – who finished second, third and fourth respectively at last year’s Marugame Half-marathon – will provide stiff opposition, keen to improve on their performances from 2012. Other Kenyans include Johana Maina, who won the Sendai Half-marathon on his debut at the distance with 61:34, and Enoch Omwamba, who will be competing in his first Half-marathon.

Among the other international entrants are Ireland’s Alistair Cragg, Australian 10,000m record-holder Collis Birmingham, and Half-marathon debutant Kidane Tadese of Eritrea.

As ever, the list of domestic entrants is strong and it includes the likes of Asian record-holder Atsushi Sato, sub-61-minute man Tsuyoshi Ugachi, and Olympic Marathon representatives Arata Fujiwara and Ryo Yamamoto.

Gelana won the women’s race at last year’s Marugame Half-marathon in 68:48, and it kick-started an incredible season in which she broke the Ethiopian Marathon record (2:18:58) then later won the Olympic title in London. Later that year she reduced her Half-marathon PB to 67:48, and she’ll return to Marugame this year keen to defend her title and maybe even challenge the course record of 67:26 set by Kayoko Fukushi in 2006.

But Gelana won’t be the fastest woman in the field as Kim Smith, the New Zealand record-holder with 67:11, is entered. The 31-year-old has won her past eight races over 13.1miles and won’t want to break that winning streak.

Australia’s Nikki Chapple, winner in Marugame in 2010, and two-time Olympian Marisa Barros of Portugal are also in the field.

The Japanese challenge is led by World Championships fifth-place finisher Yukiko Akaba, former Osaka Marathon champion Yumiko Hara, and 2010 World Half representative Hiroko Miyauchi. Sayo Nomura and Misato Horie, who finished third and fourth respectively in Marugame last year, are also in the race.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF

Invited runners (including PBs)

MEN
Abel Kirui (KEN) 60:11
Atsushi Sato (JPN) 60:25
Jacob Wanjuki (KEN) 60:32
Alistair Cragg (IRL) 60:49
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (JPN) 60:58
Daniel Gitau (KEN) 61:01
Benjamin Gandu (KEN) 61:06
Collis Birmingham (AUS) 61:25
Arata Fujiwara (JPN) 61:34
Johana Maina (KEN) 61:34
Tatsunori Hamasaki (JPN) 61:45
Yuta Igarashi (JPN) 61:46
Yuko Matsumiya (JPN) 61:53
Yuichiro Ogawa (JPN) 61:53
Ryo Yamamoto (JPN) 61:54
Tomoyuki Morita (JPN) 61:55
Hiromitsu Kakuage (JPN) 61:56
Takahiro Yamanaka (JPN) 61:57
Shuji Yoshikawa (JPN) 61:58
Masamichi Shinozaki (JPN) 61:58
Micah Njeru (KEN) 62:44
Enoch Omwamba (KEN) debut
Ryuji Ono (JPN) debut
Kidane Tadese (ERI) debut

WOMEN
Kim Smith (NZL) 67:11
Tiki Gelana (ETH) 67:48
Yukiko Akaba (JPN) 68:11
Nikki Chapple (AUS) 68:37
Marisa Barros (POR) 69:09
Yumiko Hara (JPN) 69:28
Hiroko Miyauchi (JPN) 69:54
Eri Hayakawa (JPN) 70:14
Kaori Yoshida (JPN) 70:18
Sayo Nomura (JPN) 70:34
Misato Horie (JPN) 70:37
Kumi Ogura (JPN) 71:05
Ayame Takagi (JPN) 71:10
Chihiro Takatou (JPN) 71:16
Yuka Hakoyama (JPN) 71:32
Shoko Mori (JPN) 71:41
Yuka Kakimi (JPN) 71:48
Aki Otagiri (JPN) 71:49
Kikuyo Tsuzaki (JPN) 71:53
Aya Nagata (JPN) 72:02
Sakiko Matsumi (JPN) 72:13
Rui Aoyama (JPN) 72:16
Maya Nishio (JPN) 72:18
Yuko Shimizu (JPN) 72:22
Akiko Matsuyama (JPN) debut
Eri Watanabe (JPN) debut