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ROTTERDAM AND TOKYO BOAST STRONG MARATHON FIELDS
By David Monti
Both the Fortis Marathon Rotterdam on April 5, and the Tokyo Marathon on March 22, will feature very strong international fields, organizers said today.
Rotterdam race director Mario Kadiks has recruited three men who have run sub-2:07, and will play host to the marathon debut of one of the world's top half-marathoners. Course record holder William Kipsang (2:05:49 PB), Abel Kirui (2:06:53) and Richard Limo (2:06:45) are the top entrants. The three Kenyans will be joined by countrymen Duncan Kibet (2:07:53) and Jackson Kipkoech (2:08:07) amongst others.
But the Rotterdam race favorite has yet to run a marathon. Two-time IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships silver medalist Patrick Makau will make his debut in Rotterdam. With two sub-59 minute half-marathons to his credit, Makau is the second-fastest half-marathoner of all-time. He just won last Friday's RAK Half-Marathon in the United Arab Emirates in a course record 58:52.
Kenyan Lydia Cheromei (2:25:57 PB) and Romanian Adriana Pirtea (2:28:52) are the top women's entrants in Rotterdam.
The marathon in Tokyo will be historic. Not only will it be the largest-ever marathon in Japan with about 30,000 runners, but it is the first to have both elite men's and women's fields in the same race, combined with publicly disclosed prize money.
Kenyan veteran Sammy Korir, the third-fastest marathoner of all-time with a 2:04:56 personal best, leads the entry list on time, but compatriots Daniel Njenga (2:06:16) and Salim Kipsang (2:07:29) may be bigger threats for victory now. Other international entrants include Ukrainian Dmytro Baranovsky (2:07:15), Kenyan Julius Gitahi (2:08:57), Ethiopian Moges Taye (2:09:21), and American Justin Young (2:13:54).
The Japanese squad is very powerful, led by national record holder Toshinari Takaoka (2:06:16), Atsushi Fujita (2:06:51), and 2005 World Championships bronze medalist Tsuyoshi Ogata (2:08:37). Arata Fujiwara (2:08:40), Tomoyuki Sato (2:09:43), and Kurao Umeki (2:09:52) are also in the field.
Last year's Boston Marathon runner-up, Alevtina Biktimirova of Russia, leads the list of top international women with a 2:25:12 career best. Kenya's Pamela Chepchumba (2:25:36), Ethiopia's Shiteye Gemechu (2:26:10), Romania's Luminita Talpos (2:26:43), and China's Chen Rong (2:27:05) are also part of the inaugural women's field for this event.
Two-time World Championships medalist Reiko Tosa (2:22:46) is the top Japanese entrant on the women's side. Her teammates include 40 year-old Harumi Hiroyama (2:22:56), Hiromi Ominami (2:23:26), Kiyoko Shimahara (2:26:14), and Mizuho Nasukawa (2:29:49).
Tokyo is widely viewed as the most eligible event to join the five commercial marathons of the World Marathon Majors. The WMM series begins again on April 20 with the Boston Marathon.