The Tokyo marathon has been postponed to March next year, organizers said Friday, blaming Covid-19 and ongoing restrictions in the Japanese capital.
Japan has seen the number of infections decline following a record spike last month, which prompted the government to expand and extended virus restrictions, despite the national vaccination programme ramping up.
“Even if the state of emergency has been lifted, it is difficult to determine whether we can deliver a safe and secure event with the current circumstance of the health services,” the Tokyo Marathon Foundation said in a course of decisions memo released on Friday morning. “Travel and many more restrictions are expected to continue.”
The race, originally set to take place earlier this year in March with around 38,000 runners, including top athletes participating, had already been postponed to October.
The 2020 Tokyo marathon was held in March with a reduced field of around 200 elite runners.
The postponement comes after Formula 1 announced in August the cancellation of October’s Japanese.
The Tokyo Marathon is the only World Marathon Major not taking place this year. The London Marathon and the Boston Marathon, both normally held in April, will take place on Sunday, October 3, and Monday, October 11, respectively. The Berlin, Chicago, and New York City Marathons will occur on their normally scheduled dates.
World marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei will defend her London Marathon title that will be held on 3rd October in London.
The 27-year-old who won a silver Medal behind Peres Jepchirchir at the just concluded Tokyo Olympic Games will be aiming for her third consecutive London Marathon victory.
“Last year’s win was very special, particularly given what the whole world was going through – it was fantastic just to have the London Marathon organised and even more so to be the winner,” Kosgei was quoted saying in a statement from the race organisers.
The Elgeyo-Marakwet County born beat the previous world record set 16 years by Paula Radcliffe by 1 minute 24 seconds in Chicago in 2019.
Kosgei will be, racing again just eight weeks after the very testing conditions of the Olympic Games marathon in Sapporo, will be challenged by reigning TCS New York City Marathon champion Joyciline Jepkosgei and six other women who have run under two hours and 20 minutes.
The elite women’s field includes Ethiopians Roza Dereje (ETH), whose PB of 2:18.30 makes her the tenth-fastest female marathoner of all time, and Birhane Dibaba of a PB of 2:18.35, who won the Tokyo Marathon in 2018 and 2015 and finished second in the same race on three other occasions (2020, 2017 and 2014).
Valary Jemeli also from Kenya has been included in the star studded list carrying on her shoulder a personal best of 2:19.10, that she got at the 2019 Frankfurt Marathon. Ethiopia’s Zeineba Yimer and Tigist Girma who have 2:19.28 and 2:19.50 are also lined up for the top honors battle.
Also included is Australia’s Sinead Diver, who has had two top 10 Virgin Money London Marathon finishes in the past two years and was tenth at the Tokyo Olympics.
Olympic marathon Champion, Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda will be targeting fast times at the 19th edition of the Toronto Marathon that will be held on October 21, 2018 in Toronto, Canada.
The 2012 Olympic marathon champion will face off with the race course record holder and two-time Toronto champion Philemon Rono from Kenya in which it will culminate to be an intense battle between the two accomplished marathon runners.
The duos are both friends and training partners and both are based in Iten.
“I am really happy and training hard and looking forward to competing in this big race in Toronto,” says Kiprotich, who also won the marathon title at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, joining Ethiopia’s Gezehegne Abera as the only men to ever win both major competitions.
“I was speaking with Rono and I asked him what the course like is”. Rono said the course is good and nice. I was telling him if we go fast and run the first half in 1:03 minutes, we can push at the end to 2:05. He told me it is possible.”
Kiprotich’s major championship success is outstanding and all the more remarkable since he chose to make Global Sport Communications which is based in Iten as his training base. The camp hosts some of the finest road runners that include Eliud Kipchoge and Geoffrey Kamworor who are both coached by 1992 Olympic steeplechase silver medallist Patrick Sang.
Kiprotich goes to Toronto with a personal best of 2:06.33 that he got in 2015 at the Tokyo Marathon and will be looking to lower this time when he competes in Toronto.
“I have the two medals but also I want to run a faster time than 2:05,” he says. “Most of the people they look at my times and they ask me how did you win these two medals in poor times? So it is my hope to run a good time before I retire.”
Kiprotich and Rono can expect some stiff competition from New Zealand’s Jake Robertson who will be running his second marathon after debuting at the Lake Biwa Marathon where he set his personal best and National record of 2:06.26.
Kenya’s Simon Cheprot and Polline Njeru Wanjiku have set their sights on becoming the first man and woman to win the 6th edition of the Okpekpe International 10km Road Race that will be held on May 12, 2018 in Okpekpe, Nigeria.
Both Kenyans were winners in 2016 to make it a Kenyan double for the third time in four editions of the race.
While Wanjiku was absent at the fifth edition last year, Cheprot failed to become the first man to successfully defend an Okpekpe race title, finishing seventh in the men’s race won by Ethiopia’s Leul Gebrselassie.
The duo have confirmed their participation for the sixth edition which holds next month in Okpekpe near Auchi in Edo State and Zack Amodu, the director of organisation for the race believes the Kenyans will have it tough completing a fourth double in six editions.
“We are delighted to have both Cheprot and Wanjiku back for this year’s race which has taken a significant leap from an IAAF bronze label race last year to a first ever silver label road race for the first time on Nigerian nay West African soil,” said Amodu.
“Cheprot will be making his third consecutive trip to Okpekpe while Wanjiku is returning after missing out last year. Wanjiku has been very active in the circuit this year. She won the Warszawa PZU Half Marathon in Poland late last month, some 21 days after finishing third at the Paris Half Marathon where she ran a new personal best of 1:08:20.
“Cheprot has also been active and was part of the Tokyo Marathon last February albeit he did not finish. This goes to show that this year’s race will be very explosive and we are expecting a new course record will be set.”
Amodu also revealed that both athletes ran their personal season’s best at the Okpekpe race in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
“Cheprot’s 30 minutes, 33 seconds run last year was his personal season’s best for the year while Wanjiku’s title-winning run (33:30) in 2016 was also her personal season’s best. Cheprot holds a personal best of 27:41 while Wanjiku’s all-time best is 32:10.”
The IAAF silver label Okpekpe International 10km Road Race is organised by Pamodzi Sports Marketing in conjunction with the Edo State Athletics Association and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).
Yuki warmed up for the Boston Marathon by running in his home race, the Kuki half marathon, dressed as a panda. He had previously set an unofficial world record in the same race for 13.1miles in a three piece suit. In his panda costume, he ran 1hr 10min 03sec, finishing second, and beating his brother Yoshiki.
Yuki holds plenty of other world records too, including the most sub 2hr 12min marathons by one person: 25 of them. He also has the world record for the most sub 2hr 20min marathons: an astonishing 79.
Yuki beat some of the favourites in Boston, including the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Galen Rupp, but he isn’t a full-time athlete. He fits his training around working 40 hours a week as a government clerk, from 1pm-9pm. Which surely gives hope to all us.
Because he works full time, doesn’t belong to one of the Japanese teams and accepts no corporate sponsorship, his nickname is the “citizen runner”.
Unlike almost every other elite runner, he only runs once a day – he works 40 hours a week, from 1pm – 9pm every day. On his days off he frequently does long runs of upwards of 50km at a jogging pace.
In the latest of our series focusing on IAAF World Half Marathon champions the spotlight falls on the man who is seeking a hat-trick of titles in Valencia (Mar 24), Kenyan star Geoffrey Kamworor.
If Geoffrey Kamworor could loosely be described as an “accidental” world half marathon champion in 2014 – more of which later – it was a nasty “accident” at the start of his successful title defence which provided the high drama two years later in Cardiff.
The long-legged Kenyan has, arguably, proved the most versatile distance runner of his generation. Besides his twin success at the biennial World Half Marathon Championships he has also scooped back-to-back World Cross Country titles, claimed 2015 world silver on the track over 10,000m and proved a formidable competitor over 42.2km as evidenced by his victory in November’s New York City Marathon.
Back in early 2014 Kamworor was fully focused on a strong showing in February’s Tokyo Marathon. Yet after stuttering to sixth in 2:07:37 he sought a fresh challenge and suddenly turned his attention to the World Half Marathon Championships just five weeks later in Copenhagen.
“To run the world half was never a part of the plan but I was not pleased with the position (in Tokyo) so that is when I looked to focus on world half,” he explains.
“After the marathon I rested for a few days and then when I returned to training I made sure the sessions were nice and easy.”
Having run a blistering 58:54 to win the RAK Half Marathon the previous year and boasting a record of four wins and two seconds from his seven previous competitive outings over the 21.1km distance he was clearly a class-act, although the burden of favouritism in the Danish capital fell on the shoulders of Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, the five-time world champion over the distance.
‘I ALWAYS BELIEVE IN MYSELF’
Not that Kamworor was overawed by the formidable presence of the world half marathon record holder.
“I had run 58 minutes for the half-marathon the previous year, I always believe in myself. I was focused and wanted to win,” he says of his pre-race expectations in Copenhagen.
Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, winner of the 2014 world half marathon title in Copenhagen (Getty ImagesOn a bright spring day Kamworor took to the front after 12 kilometres, where he led a six-strong lead group containing two Kenyans, an Ethiopian and three Eritreans including Tadese.
However, by the 15-kilometre point, and thanks to a strong Kamworor surge, the lead pack had halved in size with Samuel Tsegay of Eritrea and Ethiopia’s Guye Adola the only two men in contention as Tadese dropped off the pace.
Relentlessly pushing the pace, Kamworor opened daylight on the field in the final two kilometres and could not be stopped.
“I remember dropping the rest of the field,” he recalls. “I couldn’t believe this at first, but I had to remain focused.”
He crossed the line in 59:08 –13 seconds clear of Tsegay, who edged the bronze in a tight battle with Adola with Tadese fourth– to land a maiden world senior title in what proved a huge breakthrough moment for the gregarious Kenyan.
“It really meant a lot to me as it opened so many doors in my career and motivated me to win more,” he explains. “For me, it was amazing and it made me believe anything was possible.”
QUICK RECOVERY FROM A TUMBLE AT THE START IN CARDIFF
If Tadese had been Kamworor’s main rival in 2014, it was British endurance star Mo Farah who many assumed would most likely threaten the Kenya’s grip on the title in Cardiff two years later.
Farah certainly had the passionate home support behind him in the Welsh capital but Kamworor in the intervening two years had further established himself as a consistent world-class operator by adding the World Cross Country crown to his growing CV and silver behind Farah over 10,000m at the World Championships in Beijing.
Yet the Kenyan’s bid to become the third man in history to win back-to-back World Half Marathon titles was almost over before it started after he lost his footing and slipped in the narrow starting funnel -which had become slick with the descending rain – just seconds into the race.
“It was a really bad experience for me,” he recalls. “I slipped and stayed down on the ground for about 15 seconds. I had a big crowd of athletes coming from behind and pushing me.”
Geoffrey Kamworor and Bedan Karoki at the end of the men’s race at the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships Cardiff 2016. Photo: Getty ImagesHis knees badly scraped, he did, however, maintain his cool. He had lost significant ground on the leaders but within five minutes of running had found his way to the lead group.
“Once I reached the (lead) group I forgot that I had fallen down and I just focused on the race,” he explains.
With the race played out in heavy rain which worsened as the race progressed alongside buffeting winds, Kamworor sensibly adopted a pragmatic approach to the miserable weather conditions he faced that day.
“We all had to run in it, I had no option,” he says.
Significantly, Farah started drifting off the back of the lead group at 10km and by 15km – covered in a swift 41:41 – it was Kamworor running alongside his compatriot Bedan Karoki, who were locked in a two-way battle for gold as the pair worked together as part of a pre-arranged team tactic to set a blistering pace in an effort to break the field.
The duo were away and clear and it was the defending champion who launched his winning move with 2km remaining. Quickly opening up a decisive advantage he stopped the clock in 59:10 – 26 seconds clear of Karoki with Farah claiming bronze.
Taking into account Kamworor’s heavy fall coupled with the ghastly weather conditions to finish in a time just two seconds shy of what he achieved in Copenhagen two years earlier showed what he would have been capable of in more favourable circumstances.
“It was difficult for me to win after falling down, but I had to believe,” he recalls. “It was great to win the title again.”
Boasting an imposing half-marathon record of eight wins and three second places from 12 international races over the distance, the Kenyan will be the man to beat as he seeks a hat-trick of titles in Valencia later this month.
Yet the man who is coached by Patrick Sang, the former World and Olympic steeplechase silver medallist, has a simple theory as to what qualities make a good half-marathoner.
“For me it is that mix of endurance which I get from the long 40-k training sessions (training for the marathon), the speed and strength from running cross country and the pure speed from the track.”
It is a simple combination which has so far proved devastatingly effective.