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Saitama International Marathon will be canceled this year due to problems with attracting elite athletes and other issues

It has been learned that the Saitama metropolitan government and the JAAF, organizers of the Saitama International Marathon used as a selection race for World Championships and Olympic teams, plan not to hold the race this year due to problems with attracting elite athletes and other issues.

Launched in 2015 as the successor to the discontinued Yokohama International Women's Marathon, the annual Saitama International Marathon was the first World Athletics-certified marathon in the prefecture of Saitama.But due to its hilly course Saitama earned a reputation for slow times, and cases of elite Japanese women canceling plans to run became more and more frequent.

At last month's fifth edition, despite the opportunity to earn a place on the 2020 Olympic team only one elite Japanese woman competed. According to a person involved in the situation, it was no longer possible to justify spending over 700 million yen (~$6.4 million USD) to hold a national team selection race with decreasing participation and popularity.

In light of that situation, the consensus has been reached not to hold the event this year. However, with the accompanying mass participation race having attracted almost 20,000 runners last year to rank it as one of Japan's biggest marathons, the organizers are exploring options to reshape it as a mass participation amateur event beginning next year.

However, due to the necessity of closing major roads for an extended period of time, costs for road closure permits and security for the event are high. And because of excellent mass transportation access to the event from the Tokyo metropolitan area, some critics have pointed out that the lack of people staying in local hotels for the race limits its economic benefit to the region.

Costs have also been high due to changes the organizers have made every year in an effort to make the course flatter. Despite those efforts, in including Saitama in the series of races through which Japanese women could qualify for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials the JAAF set the qualifying time one minute slower for Saitama than for the Osaka International Women's Marathon and Nagoya Women's Marathon.

Even so, not a single athlete qualified at either edition of Saitama held within the qualifying window. Compared to the lone Japanese woman who competed in Saitama in December ten are set to race in Osaka this weekend, illustrating Saitama's lack of popularity.

(01/22/2020) Views: 374 ⚡AMP
by Brett Larner
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Saitama International Marathon

Saitama International Marathon

The Saitama International Marathon is a women's marathon held in Saitama, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Saitama Prefecture, Saitama City, Nippon Television Network and the Yomiuri Shimbun. The event is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race. The competition took the place of the Yokohama Women's Marathon which was held in Yokohama from 2009 until 2014 and...

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Mariko Yugeta runs 2:56:54 at the Saitama marathon taking off over two minutes from her previous 60 plus world record

The Japanese 61-year-old runner Mariko Yugeta was the first woman in the world over 60 years to run a marathon in less than 3 hours.  On November 3 at the Shimonoseki Kaikyo marathon she clocked 2:59:15.  This was three minutes and 35 seconds faster than the previous record set by the French woman Claudine Marchadier in 2007.

Just a month later, Mariko Yugeta improved on her record at the Saitama marathon.  Today December 8 she clocked 2:56:54 which means she averaged 4:12 per kilometer. 

She has run 100 marathons and her PR before today was 2:58:15 set in 2017.  But those who knew her, already pointed out that Mariko Yugeta was capable to run 2:57 thanks to her good habits of life and training on the track of Kawagoe. 

The Saitama International Marathon is a women's marathon held in Saitama, Japan, and has the IAAF Silver Seal. This race replaced the women's marathon that was held from 2009 to 2014 in Yokohama and which in turn was the successor to the international women's marathon held in Tokyo between 1979 and 2008.

Saitama's first international marathon, held on November 15, 2015, also served as a selection for female marathon representatives from Japan for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

(12/08/2019) Views: 2,650 ⚡AMP
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Saitama International Marathon

Saitama International Marathon

The Saitama International Marathon is a women's marathon held in Saitama, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Saitama Prefecture, Saitama City, Nippon Television Network and the Yomiuri Shimbun. The event is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race. The competition took the place of the Yokohama Women's Marathon which was held in Yokohama from 2009 until 2014 and...

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Jepchirchir wins Saitama Marathon in near record time

Breaking away from Fatuma Sado with 10km to go at the Saitama Marathon, Peres Jepchirchir, running her first marathon outside of Kenya, won the World Athletics Silver Label road race in 2:23:50.

The Kenyan’s winning mark was the second fastest time at the Saitama Marathon, just 32 seconds shy of the course record of 2:23:18 from 2016. Jepchirchir, the 2016 world half marathon champion and former world record-holder at the distance, was contesting just the third marathon of her career. Her official best for the marathon was a modest – by her standards – 2:46:15 recorded in Eldoret in 2018.

Two pace makers – Stacey Ndiwa and Perine Nemgampi – pushed the race at course record pace with Jepchirchir, Belaynesh Oljira, Sado and Rahma Tusa in tow. Their pace up to 15km (50:36) was consistent and steady, but it dropped slightly before the half-way point, reached in 1:11:31.

At 29km, Oljira was surprisingly the first of the top contenders to fall off the pace, and with the pacemakers exiting the course at 30km, Sado, Tusa and Jepchirchir formed the lead trio, nine seconds ahead of Oljira.

With Jepchichir forcing the pace, Tusa fell behind at 31km and then Sado did likewise one kilometre later, leaving Jepchirchir out in front alone.

Jepchirchir slowed slightly in the closing stages, but at 40km she had a two-minute lead over Sado. Her margin had grown to almost three minutes by the finish line, which she crossed in 2:23:50.

Sado, who dropped out of last year’s Saitama Marathon before going on to win the Osaka Women’s Marathon one month later, finished second, while Oljira, the fastest woman in the field with a PB of 2:21:53, finished third. Nina Savina of Belarus finished fourth in a PB of 2:28:44, taking 22 seconds off her best set in Warsaw earlier this year.

Kaori Yoshida was the first Japanese finisher, placing sixth. She was aiming to improve on her PB of 2:28:24 and was on pace to do so up until 20km, which she reached in 1:11:13. Her pace dropped in the second half, though, and she fell outside of PB pace, eventually finishing in 2:35:15.

Incidentally, 61-year-old Mariko Yugeta set a world masters’ best for the 60+ age group, clocking 2:56:54. She improved on her previous best – 2:59:15, her first sub-three-hour marathon – recorded last month in Shimonoseki.

(12/08/2019) Views: 475 ⚡AMP
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Saitama International Marathon

Saitama International Marathon

The Saitama International Marathon is a women's marathon held in Saitama, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Saitama Prefecture, Saitama City, Nippon Television Network and the Yomiuri Shimbun. The event is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race. The competition took the place of the Yokohama Women's Marathon which was held in Yokohama from 2009 until 2014 and...

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Ethiopia's Belaynesh Oljira will start as favorite in the fifth Saitama International Marathon, a World Athletics Silver Label road race

The elite field includes eight runners from abroad as well as two Japanese. Oljira is the fastest among them with a 2:21:53 lifetime best set in the 2018 Frankfurt Marathon.

Oljira was a superb track runner, having finished fifth in the 2012 Olympics and third in the 2013 World Championships, both at 10,000m and boasts track bests of 14:42.57 in the 5000m and 30:26.70 in the 10,000m. She's only raced once this year, in a 10km road race in June, so her current fitness is a mystery.  

Oljira’s second fastest marathon is 2:24:21 - only two runners in the field have run faster: Ethiopians Rahma Tusa, who clocked 2:23:46 in the 2018 Roma Marathon and Fatuma Sado who ran 2:24:16 in the 2015 Toronto Marathon. Sado was one of the favorite in Saitama last year but failed to finish. She won the Osaka Marathon in January with 2:25:39.

The field also includes Kenyan Paskalia Chepkorir, who has a best of 2:26:04; Zinash Debebe of Ethiopia, who has a 2:27:15 lifetime best; Ethiopia's Zerfie Limeneh, a 2:26:48 runner; and Nina Savina of Belarus, who's clocked 2:29:06.

Hiroko Yoshitomi, with a best of 2:30:09 and Kaori Yoshida, who's run 2:28:24, are the Japanese entrants. Their incentive? Any Japanese runner who breaks 2:22:22 will secure the third spot on the 2020 Olympic Marathon team.

The most intriguing runner in the field is Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the former world half marathon record holder with a best of 1:05:06 and 2016 world champion over the distance. She's run two marathons in her career, both at altitude in Kenya and both over 2:45. But those performances don't seem indicative of her marathon potential.

Inaugurated in 1979 as the Tokyo Women’s Marathon, the first women-only marathon, it was moved to Yokohama after 30 years where it remained as an elite women-only race. After six editions, it was moved to Saitama where it became a mass race but still only features a women's elite field.

(12/06/2019) Views: 720 ⚡AMP
by World Athletics
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Saitama International Marathon

Saitama International Marathon

The Saitama International Marathon is a women's marathon held in Saitama, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Saitama Prefecture, Saitama City, Nippon Television Network and the Yomiuri Shimbun. The event is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race. The competition took the place of the Yokohama Women's Marathon which was held in Yokohama from 2009 until 2014 and...

more...
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No Japanese Women Runners qualify for Olympic trials at the Saitama Marathon

Marie Imada finished fourth for Japan's best performance in the Saitama International Marathon on Sunday, failing to meet the qualifying standards for the Marathon Grand Championship, 2020 Olympic trials. 

In the race won by 20-year-old Dalila Gosa of Bahrain in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 35 seconds, Imada clocked 2:29:35, neither making the top three and running under 2:29:00, nor finishing in the top six under 2:28:00 to earn a place in next fall's MGC Race.

Only eight women have met the qualifying standards so far for the MGC Race to be held Sept. 15 next year in Tokyo. The MGC is a race that will determine two of the three members for both the men's and women's marathon teams for the Tokyo Olympics.

On Sunday, Imada and Saki Tokoro fell behind the leading pack around the 23-kilometer mark, while the IAAF Race turned into a duel between Gosa and fellow Bahraini Shitaye Habtegebrel down the final stretch.

"I was able to win because I trained hard. I'm very happy," Gosa said. "I'd like to work more on speed and endurance, and be able to maximize my performance." Habtegebrel crossed the finish line at the Saitama Super Arena four seconds after Gosa, and Kenya's Sylvia Jebiwot Kibet took third in 2:28:38.

Mao Kiyota, who competed in the world athletics championships in London last summer, finished fifth in 2:31:07, and Tokoro came home sixth.

(12/09/2018) Views: 793 ⚡AMP
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