SPRING MARATHON SEASON KICKS OFF SUNDAY IN ROME & TOKYO
By David Monti
(c) 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
March 17, 2009
With the frenetic indoor track season now concluded, the Spring
marathon season kicks off in Rome and Tokyo on Sunday with big fields
and high quality races.
In the Italian capital the 15th edition of the Maratona di Roma
AceaElectrabel, Italy's largest marathon, will have about 15,000
runners from 78 countries, according to elite runners coordinator Max
Monteforte. The starting line is on the Via del Fori Imperiali
adjacent to the Roman Coliseum. Interestingly, The total participant
number swells to nearly 100,000 because over 80,000 are expected to
take part in the non-competitive Roma Fun Run of 4.2 km which begins
right after the marathon. This makes the Rome race festival the
largest participation sporting event in Italy.
Twenty-four men with personal best times under 2:12 are entered in the
race, Monteforte said. The fastest is 29 year-old Kenyan Paul Kirui,
the 2004 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships gold medalist. He
clocked a personal best 2:06:44 when he finished second in Rotterdam in
2006. Last year, Kirui was the ING Amsterdam Marathon champion.
His key challengers will be two Kenyan compatriots, Hosea Rotich and
Philip Manyim, who have run 2:07:24 and 2:07:41, respectively.
Ethiopian Tariku Jufar, third at Hamburg last year in a personal best
2:08:10, and Chinese Han Gang, who has a 2:08:56 career best time, also
hope to get on the podium.
In the women's race in Rome, all eyes will be on rising Italian star
Anna Incerti. The 29 year-old athlete, who won the Samsung Milano
Marathon last November in a personal best 2:27:42, is in excellent
form. She won the Roma-Ostia Half-Marathon earlier this month in a
personal best 1:09:24.
To win, Incerti will have to beat a strong international field of
challengers, including China's Sun Weiwei (2:25:15 personal best),
Kenya's Linah Cheruiyot (2:26:00), Ethiopia's Eyerusalem Kuma
(2:26:51), Russia's Larisa Zousko (2:26:26) and Albina Ivanova
(2:27:25), and Ukraine's Tetyana Filonyuk (2:27:25).
A total prize and bonus pool of 1 million Euros is available, including
generous bonuses for world, all-comer and Italian records. Regardless
of time, the men's and women's winners will win at least 18,000 Euros.
Half a world away, the 30th edition of the Tokyo Marathon (but only its
third as a mass participation race), will start at the Tokyo
Metropolitan Government building with as many as 30,000 runners (the
race's entry limit), and finish at the Tokyo Big Sight near the water.
There will also be a companion 10-K with 5,000 runners.
At the front of the race, Kenyan Sammy Korir is the fastest man entered
with a 2:04:56 personal best. Other top Kenyans include two-time Tokyo
champion Daniel Njenga (2:06:16 PB), Salim Kipsang (2:07:29), and
Julius Gitahi (2:08:57). Ukraine's Dmytro Baranovsky is the top
European entrant (2:07:15), and Justin Young is the top North American
(2:13:54). The home team includes Tsuyoshi Ogata (Chugoku Electric
Power, 2:08:37 PB), Arata Fujiwara (JR East, 2:08:40), Tomoyuki Sato
(Asahi Kasei, 2:09:43), Kurao Umeki (Chugoku Electric Power, 2:09:52),
and of course national record holder Toshinari Takaoka (Kanebo,
2:06:16), who will be running his farewell race before retiring.
For the first time at Tokyo, an elite women's field will also take to
the streets within a mass race. Last year's Boston Marathon runner-up,
Alevtina Biktimirova of Russia (2:25:12 PB), is the top overseas
runner. Also invited were Kenya's Pamela Chepchumba (2:25:36),
Ethiopia's Shitaye Gemeshu (2:26:10), Romania's Luminita Talpos
(2:26:43) and China's Chen Rong (2:27:05). Two-time world
championships medalist Reiko Tosa of Mitsui Sumitomo leads the Japanese
team (2:22:46 PB). Forty year-old Harumi Hiroyama (Shiseido, 2:22:56),
Hiromi Ominami (Toyota Auto Body, 2:23:26), Kiyoko Shimahara (Second
Wind AC, 2:26:14), Mizuho Nasukawa (Aruze, 2:29:49) are also entered.
Hiroyama could challenge Ludmila Petrova's world masters record of
For the first time, the Tokyo Marathon will feature publicly-reported
prize money and time bonuses, totaling 108,400,000 yen (=USD
1,097,688). The male and female race winners will receive 8,000,000
yen (=USD 81,010) and prize money will be paid ten-deep.
About on month later, the spring marathon season will reach its
crescendo with the two World Marathon Majors events in Boston (April
20) and London (April 26), before the attention of athletics fans
begins to turn back to track.