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When the Fukuoka International Marathon became a non-domestic race in 1966, the intent of the organizer was to invite the winners from all the international championship marathons which took place over the previous 12 months. In keeping with the spirit of the event, this year’s edition of the World Athletics Gold Label road race, set to take place on Sunday, December 1st, , features European champion Koen Naert and Pan American Games gold medalist Christian Pachoco.
Naert recorded his marathon personal best, 2:07:39, at this year’s Rotterdam Marathon. But Morocco’s El Mahjoub Dazza is the fastest in the field as he recorded 2:05:26 at the 2018 Valencia Marathon and 2:05:58 in Prague earlier this year. Those two performances are faster than the PBs of all the other runners in the field.
“I am ready,” he said. “If the weather is good, I can run fast.”
Other invited runners include Tsedat Abeje Ayana, who set a PB of 2:06:36 in Seville earlier this year, as well as sub-2:09 performers Raymond Choge, Amanuel Mesel, Abdi Ibrahim Abdo, and Shadrack Kiplagat. Mesel has competed in the past four editions of Fukuoka Marathon and has broken 2:10 in 2017 and 2018.
Kenyans running for a corporate sponsored team won the race on three occasions between 2011 and 2013. This year Michael Githae, who runs for Suzuki Hamamatsu Athletics Club, will try to become fourth Kenyan with a Japanese connection to win the Fukuoka Marathon. He was eighth at the 2017 Fukuoka Marathon and recorded a personal best of 2:09:21 at the 2018 Lake Biwa Marathon.
For Japanese runners, the significance of the race is that anybody who improves the national marathon record, 2:05:50, will clinch the third spot on the Japanese Olympic Marathon team – unless someone else improves the record further at the 2020 Tokyo or the Lake Biwa Marathon. Given the Japanese entrants for Sunday’s race, however, a national record appears unlikely in Fukuoka.
Taku Fujimoto, who ran 2:07:57 at the 2018 Chicago Marathon, is the fastest Japanese runner in the field, while Yuki Sato, who has a 10,000m best of 27:38.25, may have the best marathon potential.
Yuki Kawauchi will run the Fukuoka Marathon for the fifth straight year. His personal best is 2:08:14, while his best time in Fukuoka is 2:09:05 from 2013. Now that Kawauchi no longer works for Saitama prefecture government, he may be ready for a quicker time.
The Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship is one of the longest running races in Japan, it is alsoan international men’s marathon race established in 1947. The course record is held by Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia, running 2:05:18 in 2009. Frank Shorter won first straight years from 1971 to 1974. Derek Clayton set the World Record here in 1967 running 2:09:37. ...more...