By David Monti.
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

March 24, 2011

With the cancellation of both the Nagoya Women's Marathon and the Nagano Marathon due to the devastating earthquake in northern Japan, the Japanese governing body for athletics has decided to use the Virgin London Marathon as the final qualifying race for their IAAF World Championships women's marathon team.  London organizers announced today that the Japan Association of Athletic Federations (JAAF) would send nine women to the Sunday, April 17, race.

"We have all watched with horror the devastating scenes from Japan and we send our sympathies and condolences to our friends and colleagues there," London race director David Bedford said in a statement.  "On hearing that the Nagoya International Women's Marathon had been canceled, the Virgin London Marathon immediately offered its support to the Japan Association of Athletic Federations.  The JAAF asked us to assist by providing places to some of its runners and we are delighted to add nine elite Japanese athletes to our elite women's field."

The athletes are: Yuri Kano, 2:24:27 PB; Mizuho Nasukawa , 2:25:38; Yurika Nakamura, 2:25:51; Madoka Ogi, 2:26:55; Yoshiko Fujinaga, 2:28:13; Yukari Sahaku, 2:28:55; Azusa Nojiri, 2:29:12; Noriko Matsuoka, debut; and Risa Shigetomo, debut.  Kano ran last Sunday's NYC Half, finishing 21st in 1:14:59.  With the assistance of the New York Road Runners, she went to Albuquerque, N.M., for additional high altitude training.

Yukiko Akaba, who won the Osaka marathon earlier this year and placed sixth in London last year, was already in the 2011 London Marathon elite women's field, and now has a shot at the national team.

Four slots on the Japanese team of five are still up for grabs.  Yoshimi Ozaki, the reigning world championships silver medalist, is the only Japanese woman who has locked in a team berth by virtue of her victory at the Yokohama Women's Marathon on Feb. 20, where she clocked a course record 2:23:56.

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