Mathew Kisorio beats Charles Kibet in Nyahururu (Nicholas Njagi, Ginadin Communications) © Copyright
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Kisorio versus Mogusu - Preview of Marugame Half Marathon

The 66th annual Marugame Half Marathon, the venue of Asian half marathon record for women, is scheduled to be held on Sunday 5 February. The race, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, is a mass race with both elite men and women.


If he is in shape, the runner who is head and shoulder above the competition in Marugame, is Mathew Kisorio of Kenya. He has a personal best of 12:57.83 for 5000m, 26:54.25 for 10,000m and 58:46 for the half marathon, and thus if he is in shape, Kisorio should be considered to be the prohibitive favourite. Kisorio was fourth in the World Cross Country Championships, and more recently he was third behind Wilson Kiprop (2010 World Half Marathon Champon) and Geoffrey Mutai in Cross Country race in Eldoret, so Kisorio is obviously in shape.


If anybody is going to challenge Kisorio, the course record (59:48) holder Mekubo Mogusu of Kenya is the man.  Mogusu used to live in Japan attending school in Yamanashi prefecture, so he feels home in the race on Japanese soil. Although his personal best is over a minute slower than that of Kisorio, Mogusu has broken 60 minutes three times while Kisorio has done only once. However while Kisorio’s half marathon personal best was recorded in 2011, Mogusu has not broken 61 minutes for the half marathon since 2009. But if Mogusu recaptures his fabulous form back in 2007 to 2009, the race against Kisorio will likely be a fabulous one.  Both the course record of 59:48 as well as Japanese all-comers record of 58:45 by late Samuel Wanjiru recorded in Sendai are in danger. If anybody is going to challenge Kisorio and Mogusu, it will be James Mwangi, who finished second in 2011 Fukuoka Marathon. Mwangi finished 7th in 2005 World Half Marathon Championships and have half marathon best of 1:00:34, recorded in 2008 Rotterdam Half Marathon.


Among the Japanese Yuki Kawauchi will attract the most attention from the media for he holds full time non-running job but has world class marathon time (2:08:37). Kawauchi, ultimate amateur runner, will use this race as a tune up for the upcoming Tokyo marathon, where he will try to qualify for the Olympic marathon team with 2:07 clocking. Atsushi Sato is Asian record (1:00:25) holder at Half marathon, but it is not certain if he has recovered from disastrous 23rd fastest stage in the New Year Ekiden. The top Japanese spot may go to a young up and coming star, Yusuke Takabayashi, who ran the fastest seventh stage in the New Year’s Ekiden a month ago. Two years ago he was fifth in 2010 Marugame Half Marathon with personal best of 1:01:54.


On the women’s side, Sarah Chepchirchir, who was10th in 2010 World Half Marathon Championships and has the half marathon best of 1:08:07 from 2011, may be the favourite.  Her main challenger is Tiki Gelana, who won the 2011 Amsterdam marathon with 2:22:08. In Amsterdam, Gelana covered the last half of the race in 1:10:34, only 12 seconds slower than her half marathon personal best. This number probably implies that Gelana has sub 70 minutes half marathon in her, thus may have a chance to challenge Chepchirchir.  


Among the Japanese Yoshiko Fujinaga and Mai Ito are likely to be fighting for top national spot. Fujinaga, 1999 World Cross Country Championships junior bronze medalist, was sixth in last year’s Marugame marathon and 13th in the 2011 London Marathon. Ito who set half marathon personal best of 1:10:03 in Okayama last December was 2nd in 2011 Osaka Ladies Marathon and then finished 22nd in the World Championships. If they both falter, then Kaoru Nagao, who finished fourth in two marathons she contested last year, may challenge for the top Japanese spot.


Ken Nakamura for the IAAF


Elite Fields:

Men:

International:

Mathew Kisorio (KEN) 58:46 2011 Philadelphia

Mekubo Mogusu (KEN) 59:48 2007 Marugame

Alistair Cragg (IRL) 1:00:49 2011 New York

Rachid Kisri (MAR) 1:01:52 2011 Marugame

Dmytro Baranovskyy (UKR) 2:07:15 2006 Fukuoka marathon

Jeong Jin Hyeok (KOR) 2:09:28 2011 Seoul Dong A Marathon

Daniel Gitau (KEN) 1:01:08 2010 Marugame

James Mwangi (KEN) 1:00:34 2008 Rotterdam

Ondiba Cosmas (KEN) 1:02:21 2010 Marugame  

Benjamin Gando (KEN)


Domestic:

Yuko Matsumiya 1:01:53 2000 All JPN Corporate half marathon

Ryotaro Nitta 1:02:35 2011 Marugame

Shoji Akutsu 1:03:05 2007 Ageo  

Atsushi Sato 1:00:25 2007 World Half

Satoshi Irifune 1:01:36 2000 All JPN Corporate half marathon

Kenta Oshima 1:01:48 2003 All JPN Corporate half marathon

Yusuke Takabayashi 1:01:54 2010 Marugame

Yuki Kawauchi 1:02:40 2011 Marugame

Seiji Kobayashi 1:02:44 2007 Marugame

Ryo Matsumoto 1:02:50 2011 Marugame

Yuta Igarashi 1:02:51   2009 Tachikawa

Yuki Iwai 1:02:59 2004 Ageo

Ryota Nakamura 1:03:16

Yuki Iwamoto 1:04:09

Satoshi Kubooka 1:04:21

Yohei Nishiyama 1:04:39

Yuya Konishi 1:05:28

Hiromitsu Kakuage 1:02:34

Shinobu Kubota 1:04:46

Sho Matsueda 1:03:12

Yuki Maeda 1:03:02

Keita Shitara

Kaido Kita 1:03:50

Jo Fukuda 1:04:20

Kenji Nakamura 1:06:16



Women:

International:

Sarah Chepchirchir(KEN) 1:08:07 2011 Vitry sur Seine

Tiki Gelana (ETH) 1:10:22 2008 New Delhi  

Margarita Plaksina (RUS) 2:27:07 2011 Paris Marathon  

Kim Sung Eun (KOR) 1:11:34 2010 Marugame


Domestic:

Yoshiko Fujinaga 1:09:29 2001 Kobe

Mari Ozaki 1:09:33 2002 Marugame

Hiroko Miyauchi 1:09:54 2008 Miyazaki

Mai Ito 1:10:03 2011 Sanyo (Okayama)

Kaoru Nagao 1:10:45 2010 All JPN COrporate half marathon

Noriko Higuchi 1:10:51 2010 Marugame

Yuka Izumi 1:10:58 2008 Sanyo (Okayama)

Kumi Ogura 1:12:21 2011 Marugame

Misaki Onishi 1:13:10

Yukari Abe 1:13:19

Chisa Fujimoto

Sayo Nomura 1:11:54 2009 Matsue

Miu Kato 1:13:32