An assault on both the men's and women's records is expected at the Tokyo Marathon, a World Athletics Platinum level, on Sunday
The best fields ever assembled for this race in the Japanese capital will be targeting Wilson Kipsang's 2:03:58 and Sarah Chepchirchir's 2:19:47 course records, both set in 2017.
Three entrants with lifetime bests faster than Kipsang's mark head the men's field, all three from Ethiopia. Birhanu Legese is the fastest at 2:02:48, Getaneh Molla next at 2:03:34 with Sisay Lemma just a couple ticks behind with 2:03:36. All three set their bests in 2019 - Legese and Lemma in Berlin and Molla in Dubai - so should be near top form now.
Five more runners - Asefa Mengstu, Dickson Chumba, Hayle Lemi, El Hassan El Abbassi, and Titus Ekiru – come armed with sub-2:05 bests. The favorite may be Legese, the defending Tokyo Marathon champion, who recorded his personal best behind Kenenisa Bekele's world record attack in the German capital.
Although Molla stated his time goal as 2:03:55, he may be ready to run faster given his PB was set in his debut over the distance. The most ambitious runner may be Lemma who said he's gunning for a 2:02:00 performance.
Dickson Chumba, who won this race in 2014 and 2018, is going for a record third victory. He has run in every Tokyo Marathon since 2014 and never finished further back than third.
Aga and Dibaba head deep women's field, Four runners with personal bests faster than Chepchirchir's course record time will start the women’s race: Ruti Aga, who clocked 2:18:34 in Berlin in 2018; Birhane Dibaba who ran 2:18:46 in last year's quality Valencia race; Kenyan Valary Aiyabei, who clocked 2:19:10 in Frankfurt last year; and Israel's Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, who has a 2:19:46 best set in Prague last year.
With 2:19:52 credentials, Tigist Girma rounds out the sub-2:20 field. Four others have dipped under 2:22.
Dibaba, who has run in Tokyo five times, is the only multiple winner, collecting victories in 2015 and 2018. She said she's targeting a 2:18:30 performance and a third victory. Aga, the defending Tokyo champion, is aiming for a lifetime best. Although her marathon best is only 2:24:11, Senbere Teferi, with a 1:05:32 career best one of the fastest half marathon runners in history and the Ethiopian record holder, should also be capable of running with the field's sub-2:20 runners.
"We have been preparing for the Tokyo Marathon 2020 while implementing preventive safety measures, however, now that case of COVID-19 has been confirmed within Tokyo, we cannot continue to launch the event within the scale we originally anticipated," organizers said.
posted Friday February 28th
by World Athletics