Skip to main content

Matsuo and Hattori Lead Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon's 55th Running

by Brett Larner

The Feb. 12 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon is one of Japan's main developmental races for men, not counting directly in national team selection but serving as a springboard to future success.  Much of the field is making its debut each year or looking for a step up after showing potential in Nagano, Hokkaido or Osaka.  Rio Olympian Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) got his start in Nobeoka with a win in 2015, and Nobeoka has seen 2:11 winning times three times in its 55-year history including twice in the last five years.

Last year's winner Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) returns as the top seed, the only man in the field to have broken 2:13 in the last three years.  If he wins he will be the first man since 1986 to win Nobeoka in back-to-back years. His main competition among those with experience comes from Sora Tsukada (Team SG Holdings), Junji Katakawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Yuji Murota (Team JFE Steel), all 2:15 in minor domestic races last year. Kenta Matsumoto (Team Toyota) is an outside contender after a failed marathon debut in Hokkaido last summer.

Among the first-timers, Shota Hattori (Team Honda) leads the way with a 1:01:25 half marathon best at the 2015 National Corporate Half Marathon. Dangerous when on but usually in off mode, Hattori has been training for his debut with teammate Yuta Shitara who will be debuting at the Tokyo Marathon two weeks later.  Toshiki Sadakata and Kenta Matsubara will both be debuting off recent 62-minute half marathons, Sadakata a member of the increasingly successful MHPS corporate team and Matsubara a teammate and training partner of Matsumoto at Toyota.

In honor of Nobeoka's 55th anniversary, local Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei), the top Japanese finisher in the Rio Olympics men's marathon, will handle pacing duties in preparation for an expected return to March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  The Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon will be broadcast live locally starting at noon on Feb. 12, with a 90-minute highlight show broadcast nationally on BS Fuji that night at midnight.

55th Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon
Elite Field Highlights
Nobeoka, Miyazaki, 2/12/17
click here for complete field listing
times listed are best in last three years except where noted

Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (Nobeoka 2014)
Sora Tsukada (SG Holdings) - 2:15:16 (Osaka 2016)
Junji Katakawa (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:15:19 (Shizuoka 2016)
Yuji Murota (JFE Steel) - 2:15:41 (Hokkaido 2016)
Yosuke Chida (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:17:05 (Osaka 2016)
Daisuke Matsufuji (Kanebo) - 2:17:56 (Lake Biwa 2016)
Kenta Otani (JFE Steel) - 2:17:58 (Beppu-OIta 2015)
Masaki Hori (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:18:55 (Nagano 2014)
Toyoyuki Abe (NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:18:59 (Osaka 2016)
Yuya Taguchi (Toyota Boshoku) - 2:19:41 (Lake Biwa 2015)
Kenta Matsumoto (Toyota) - 2:22:42 (Hokkaido 2016)

Debut
Shota Hattori (Honda) - 1:01:25 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Toshiki Sadakata (MHPS) - 1:02:40 (Marugame Half 2016)
Kenta Matsubara (Toyota) - 1:02:50 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Masahito Sumimoto (Mazda) - 1:03:13 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Shota Miyagami (Kyudenko) - 1:03:21 (Ageo City Half 2015)
Naoki Nishio (Chudenko) - 1:03:23 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2014)
Tomohiro Shiiya (Toyota Boshoku) - 1:03:47 (Marugame Half 2016)
Shohei Kurata (GMO Athletes) - 1:03:53 (Nat'l Univ. Half 2015)
Koji Kaneko (Kurosaki Harima) - 1:04:20 (Nat'l Corp. Half 2015)
Jun Shinoto (Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) - 1:04:36 (Tamana Half 2014)
Takato Koitabashi (Konica Minolta) - 1:04:45 (Marugame Half 2015)
Yuma Mori (SG Holdings) - 1:04:56 (Shibetsu Half 2014)

© 2017 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Kawauchi Breaks Sub-2:20 World Record in Sub-Zero Temperatures

Battling freezing temperatures and wind chill that took things down to -23C, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran a 2018 world-leading 2:18:59 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, taking 30 minutes off the course record and breaking American Doug Kurtis' historic sub-2:20 world record with his 76th career sub-2:20.

Kawauchi spent Dec. 29 to 31 training on the Boston Marathon course ahead of his upcoming appearance as part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team and planned to run Marshfield at the tail end of his trip. The Marshfield Road Runners club, organizers of the marathon, had their longstanding race USATF certified ahead of his appearance.


Wearing full-length tights in a marathon for the first time, in Marshfield Kawauchi planned to run the first of the hilly course's two laps in 1:09 flat to give himself room to work with in breaking 2:20. But in the wind and cold he struggled to stay on pace, ice crystals coating his face as he hit halfway in 1:10:29…

Aoyama Gakuin Runs Down Toyo for Fourth-Straight Hakone Ekiden Title

In a rare reversal of Day One standings, Aoyama Gakuin University ran down Toyo University early in on Day Two to win its fourth-straight Hakone Ekiden title. At both the Izumo Ekiden and National University Men's Ekiden this season, Toyo struggled to cope with the absence of its entire senior class due to injury, running up front much of the way but lacking the depth to keep the lead in the final stages. Hakone played out like an opera-scale version of the same familiar story, its brilliant Day One win backlit by the headlights of rapidly approaching fate.

Second on Day Two's opening stage, the 20.8 km Sixth Stage with around 800 m elevation loss, both of the last two years, AGU 3rd-year Yuji Onoda just missed the course record en route as he ran down Toyo's Shunsuke Imanishi and put AGU almost a minute ahead by the time he handed off. AGU's next two runners Keisuke Hayashi and Yuta Shimoda both won their stages, Hayashi, a relative unknown on the roster, running 1:0…