Kenya’s Martin Mathathi will defend his Fukuoka Marathon title December 7, but a lot of eyes will be on the performance of his compatriot and former marathon world record-holder Patrick Makau following the announcement of the elite field for the race.
Mathathi won the 2013 edition of the famous Japanese race in 2:07:16, his only completed marathon to date, and then clocked 1:00:11 to win the Marugame Half Marathon in February but he has kept a low profile since and not had a single outing.
He is one of three previous Fukuoka winners who will stand on the start line this year.
Also returning are Kenya’s surprise 2012 champion Joseph Gitau—who was well-beaten into second place last year by Mathathi—and, of a slightly earlier vintage, Ukraine’s 2005 winner Dmytro Baranovskyy.
Makau, who set a world record of 2:03:38 when winning the 2011 Berlin Marathon, has struggled for form in the past two years and not broken 2:10 since the 2012 Frankfurt Marathon.
He will be looking to resurrect his career over the classic distance at the 68th edition of the Fukuoka race but will have to put behind him a disappointing half marathon outing in Valencia earlier this month where he finished a modest 23rd in 1:04:48.
Fukuoka is one of four races being used to decide the Japanese team for the 2015 IAAF World Championships, and with places in Beijing at stake, there is considerable domestic interest as well.
The best Japanese man in the field on current form is Kentaro Nakamoto, who was sixth at the London 2012 Olympic Games and fifth at the 2013 IAAF World Championships.
Nakamoto clocked his best of 2:08:35 at the 2013 Beppu-Oita Marathon but his Moscow team-mate Masakazu Fujiwara, who can actually boast of a slightly faster personal best of 2:08:12 from 2003, is also in the field.
The race will also see former 1,500m and 5,000m national champion Yuichiro Ueno make his debut over the classic distance.
In total, organisers announced eight runners with personal bests faster than 2:08 and 13 better than 2:10. -IAAF
Meanwhile, the 13th edition of the Bank of Baringo half marathon race that takes place on Saturday has attracted four Ethiopian runners.
Dereje Adugne and Degene Shewakenaw will fight for the Sh300,000 prize in the men’s race while compatriots Mekedes Fekede and Banchayehu Tadese vie for an equal amount in the women’s category.
Adugne won bronze in Ethiopia’s 2014 National Cross-Country while Shewakenaw clocked 31 minutes to win the 2013 Great Ethiopian Run.
The women on show tomorrow equally pose a real threat to the locals owing to their achievements in the last two years. Tadese and Fekede clocked 36 and 37 minutes respectively in last year’s Great Ethiopian Run.