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Race news Tokyo Marathon

21 February 2022, 9am

Kosgei and Kipchoge set to return to Japan

Tokyo Marathon to go ahead on 6 March

by Brett Larner

Tokyo Marathon
Sun 6 March 2022

On 17 February prime minister Fumio Kishida publicly confirmed that Japan will begin relaxing its rigid border restrictions as of 1 March.

As a result Tokyo Marathon Foundation, after a meeting of the Board of Directors, followed up its earlier announcement of the domestic elite field for this year’s twice-rescheduled race with the full list of international athletes due to compete.

Women’s and men’s world record holders Brigid Kosgei and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya are set to return to Japan after winning the Olympic marathon silver and gold medals in Sapporo last summer. They are backed up by small but high-quality international fields along with the Japanese women-only and men’s marathon NR holders and half marathon NR holders, and more.

Kosgei will face a solid list of proven winners, including last year’s Amsterdam winner Angela Tanui (Kenya), 2019 Berlin winner Ashete Bekere (Ethiopia), 2021 Milan winner Hiwot Gebrekidan (Ethiopia), 2021 Berlin winner Gotytom Gebreslase (Ethiopia), 2020 Marathon Project winner Sara Hall (U.S.A.) fresh off a new NR at January’s Houston Half Marathon, and 2019 Tokyo Marathon runner-up Helen Bekele (Ethiopia), winner of the Olympic-qualifying microrace held in Belp, Switzerland last year. Japan’s women-only NR holder Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal), 1st in Osaka last year and 1st in Nagoya the year before, is also in the mix between Gotytom and Hall by best time. 2020 winner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter is chasing bigger bucks in Nagoya the weekend after Tokyo, but her 2:17:45 CR won’t go easily.

Kipchoge’s main competition comes from 2019 and 2020 Tokyo winner Birhanu Legese (Ethiopia) and 2019 Doha World Championships silver medalist Mosinet Geremew (Ethiopia). Kipchoge’s best time in a legitimate race since setting the 2:01:39 world record in 2018 was his 2:02:37 win in London 2019, and both Birhanu and Mosinet have run within 18 seconds of that. Mosinet and Tamirat Tola (Ethiopia) both beat Kipchoge in London 2020, and with Tola’s 2:03:39 win in Amsterdam last fall almost a minute faster than Kipchoge’s best time of 2020 and 2021 he’s on the list of people who could take away a Tokyo win too. Likewise for Doha bronze medalist Amos Kipruto (Kenya). Jonathan Korir (Kenya) and Japanese NR holder Kengo Suzuki (Fujitsu) round out the list of current sub-2:05 runners, with Shura Kitata (Ethiopia) just outside. Given the number of people who’ve run faster than Wilson Kipsang’s 2:03:58 CR, the chances are higher that we’ll see it go than the women’s.

As of right now it looks like Tokyo will be trying to go ahead with a full mass-participation field of 25,000, even as the 20,000-runner Osaka Marathon the weekend before Tokyo announced this week that it was cutting back to an elite-only race as COVID numbers stay high and other races cancel outright.

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