Tadese Tola and Munyo Solomon Mutai, bronze medallists at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships respectively, are among the athletes set to compete at the Lake Biwa Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, in the Japanese city of Otsu on 6 March.
Tola is the fastest in the field thanks to his 2:04:49 PB from the 2013 Dubai Marathon. The former Paris and Beijing marathon winner will be competing at the Lake Biwa Marathon for the first time.
Although Mutai has one of the slowest PBs of the elite field, the Ugandan is still a relative newcomer to the marathon. His bronze-medal performance of 2:13:30 against a strong field in the heat of Beijing last year suggests that he is capable of going much faster in more ideal conditions.
Mutai is one three top-12 finishers from last year’s World Championships who will be competing in Otsu.
Bahrain’s Shumi Dechasa was fifth in the Chinese capital last year. He set a national record of 2:06:43 when winning the Hamburg Marathon in 2014.
Alphonce Felix Simbu finished 12th in Beijing in what was just his second marathon. The Tanzanian has a best of 2:12:01, set on his marathon debut at the 2015 Gold Coast Marathon.
Kenya’s Lucas Rotich succeeded Dechasa in 2015 as the Hamburg Marathon champion, clocking a PB of 2:07:17. The 2007 world youth 3000m silver medallist will be contesting his first marathon in Asia.
Other internationals in the field include Polish record-holder and 2012 Lake Biwa runner-up Henryk Szost, Mongolian record-holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir and Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata.
For Japanese athletes, the race doubles up as the final qualifying opportunity for the Olympic team, so there will be a strong domestic presence.
Kazuhiro Maeda, whose 2:08:00 PB makes him the fastest Japanese entrant, was the top national finisher at last year’s Lake Biwa Marathon.
Prolific racer Yuki Kawauchi is also entered. It will be just the second time he has contested the Lake Biwa Marathon, having finished fourth in 2014.
Kentaro Nakamoto, who has finished in the top 10 at three global championships, will be looking to improve on his fourth-place finishes in Otsu from 2011 and 2012.
Ryo Yamamoto booked his spot on the 2012 Olympic team by finishing third at the Lake Biwa Marathon earlier this year, so he will aim to replicate that feat.
Tadese Tola (ETH) 2:04:49
Shumi Dechasa (BRN) 2:06:43
Lucas Rotich (KEN) 2:07:17
Henryk Szost (POL) 2:07:39
Kazuhiro Maeda (JPN) 2:08:00
Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 2:08:14
Kentaro Nakamoto (JPN) 2:08:35
Ryo Yamamoto (JPN) 2:08:44
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (MGL) 2:08:50
Shura Kitata (ETH) 2:08:53
Masanori Sakai (JPN) 2:09:10
Suehiro Ishikawa (JPN) 2:09:10
Tomoya Adachi (JPN) 2:09:59
Munyo Solomon Mutai (UGA) 2:10:42
Alphonce Felix Simbu (TAN) 2:12:01