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Survival of the Fittest as Japan prepares for IAU 100km Challenge

7 October 1998MonacoMonte Carlo - On October 18, the IAU 100km World Challenge takes place in conjunction with the River Shimanto 100km race in Japan. Under the patronage of the IAAF, the World Challenge - for which elite runners are entered by national federations - is sure to add an extra lustre to the annual River Shimanto race which attracts around 1500 entries, testimony of the growing appeal of the ultra-distance event.

Japan, with its terrific tradition and interest in all forms of distance running, is an inspired choice of venue for this year’s race, with great crowds expected and TV coverage guaranteed.

In this Year of Women in Athletics, we should consider first the women’s entries. Defending champion Valentina Liakhova (RUS) will face tough opposition from Rae Bischoff (RSA), who beat her in the prestigious Comrades Marathon (90km race) and Maria Auxilliadora Venencio (BRA), who finished ahead of her in a 100km event in August where she also set this year’s fastest time of 7:20:22. A number of women are to be honoured by the IAAF in a special ceremony at River Shimanto where they will receive commemorative medals for services to The Year of Women in Athletics.

In the men’s competition, three Russians are favourites: Sergei Yanenko (defending champion), Konstantin Santalov (winner in 1992, 93, 96) and Alexei Volgin (winner in 1994). Yet Japan’s own hopes will have been boosted by Takahara Sunada, who achieved a mark of 6:13:33 on June 21, the fastest time ever recorded for 100km.

Teams have been sent by Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, Canada, Spain, France, Britain, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Slovak Republic, Ukraine, USA. Every Continental Area of the IAAF is represented. Russia are men’s defending champions, while France won the last women’s event.

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