Martin Mathathi en route to winning at the 2014 Marugame Half Marathon (Masamichi Makino (Getsuriku)) © Copyright
General News Marugame, Japan

Mathathi and Makikawa will defend Marugame titles

Kenya’s Martin Mathathi and Japan’s Eri Makikawa will line up at the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon on 1 February to defend their titles at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

But their task won’t be an easy one. Mathathi will be up against Bernard Koech, the fastest man of 2013 with his 58:41 clocking, while Makikawa will take on USA’s Shalane Flanagan, the 2008 Olympic and 2011 World Cross bronze medallist.

Mathathi was just 23 seconds shy of his PB when he triumphed in Marugame last year in 1:00:11, crossing the line 39 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger. Makikawa enjoyed a similarly comfortable victory in the women’s race, clocking a PB of 1:00:27 in the process.

In his most recent race, Mathathi finished a distant 21st at the Fukuoka Marathon, but the 2007 world 10,000m bronze medallist will need to be back at his best to challenge the likes of Koech.

The 26-year-old Kenyan has broken the 60-minute barrier on five occasions, including last year when running 59:46 in Ras al-Khaimah. Later in 2014 he clocked a world-leading 45:12 when winning over 10 miles in Tilburg.

Also in the field are Eritrea’s world half-marathon silver medallist Samuel Tsegaye, former world half-marathon champion Fabiano Joseph of Tanzania, and Olympic 5000m finalist Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico. Meanwhile, Commonwealth 5000m bronze medallist Zane Robertson will be making his half-marathon debut.

The best Japanese runners in the field include the likes of last year’s fifth-place finisher Masato Kikuchi, 2012 Olympic marathon representative Arata Fujiwara, and 21-year-old Daichi Kamino, who recently earned himself the nickname of ‘Mountain God’ after recording the best ever time on the uphill stage of the Hakone Ekiden.

In a high-quality women’s field, defending champion Makikawa is just the ninth fastest.

Flanagan has the best PB with her 1:08:31 clocking from New Orleans in 2013. Following a 2014 season in which she ran 2:22:02 in Boston and 2:21:14 in Berlin, the 33-year-old is now looking for a fast time over half the distance in what will be her first road race in Asia.

Ethiopia’s Ehitu Kiros will also be contesting her first race on Japanese soil. The 27-year-old had a low-key season in 2014, but she hopes to recapture the kind of form that took her to PBs of 1:09:38 and 2:23:39 in 2013.

Former World University Games silver medallist Hanae Tanaka is the fastest Japanese woman in the field. Competing in just her third race over 13.1 miles, she will be aiming to improve on her best of 1:09:18.

Other notable athletes in the field include Yokohama Marathon runner-up Azusa Nojiri and Australia’s Olympic 10,000m finalist Eloise Wellings, who will be making her half-marathon debut.

This will be the 67th edition of the Marugame race, but just the 19th year in which it has been held over the half-marathon distance. It was a marathon for the first 13 editions before being reduced to a 35km race in 1961 and then a 20km event in 1971.

The course records currently belong to Mekubo Mogusu (59:48) and Kayoko Fukushi (1:07:26). Mogusu remains the only man to have run faster than 60 minutes on the course, while Fukushi is one of three women to have broken the 68-minute barrier in Marugame.

IAAF

Elite fields (with PBs)


Men

Bernard Koech (KEN) 58:41
Samuel Tsegaye (ERI) 59:21
Martin Mathathi (KEN) 59:48
Fabiano Joseph (TAN) 59:56
Jacob Wanjuki (KEN) 1:00:32
Masato Kikuchi (JPN) 1:01:17
Juan Luis Barrios (MEX) 1:01:21
Arata Fujiwara (JPN) 1:01:34
Keita Shitara (JPN) 1:01:45
Shogo Nakamura (JPN) 1:01:57
Edward Waweru (KEN) 1:02:08
Kenta Iinuma (JPN) 1:02:09
Yoshihiro Wakamatsu (JPN) 1:02:17
Keisuke Tanaka (JPN) 1:02:38
Shin-ichiro Tai (JPN) 1:02:54
Natsuo Terada (JPN) 1:02:37
Daichi Kamino (JPN) 1:02:42
Yohei Nishiyama (JPN) 1:02:38
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (MGL) 1:03:32
Zane Robertson (NZL) debut
Akinobu Murasawa (JPN) debut
Paul Kuira (KEN) debut

Women
Shalane Flanagan (USA) 1:08:31
Hanae Tanaka (JPN) 1:09:18
Ehitu Kiros (ETH) 1:09:38
Sayo Nomura (JPN) 1:10:03
Madoka Ogi (JPN) 1:10:11
Eri Hayakawa (JPN) 1:10:13
Zivile Balciunaite (LTU) 1:10:23
Misato Horie (JPN) 1:10:26
Eri Makikawa (JPN) 1:10:27
Rui Aoyama (JPN) 1:10:28
Hiroko Shoi (JPN) 1:10:48
Azusa Nojiri (JPN) 1:10:53
Aki Otagiri (JPN) 1:11:43
Yoko Aizu (JPN) 1:12:18
Yuko Mizuguchi (JPN) 1:13:27
Hitomi Nakamura (JPN) 1:13:50
Eloise Wellings (AUS) debut
Honoka Yuzawa (JPN) debut