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Noguchi, Takaoka, Fujiwara and Njoroge to Compete in Sendai International Half Marathon (updated)

by Brett Larner

On May 8, the Sendai International Half Marathon released the names of the invited runners for this year`s 18th edition, to be held May 11 in Sendai. Headlining the field are Japanese national marathon record holders Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and Toshinari Takaoka (Team Kanebo).

Noguchi will be using Sendai as a tune-up for the Beijing Olympics after a spring season which saw her drop out of her other preparatory races after a series of minor setbacks. She is the defending champion, having won last year`s Sendai in a strong 1:08:54, and is also the overwhelming favorite in a somewhat limited women`s field which includes only one other Japanese runner with a PB under 1:10. Her strongest competition will likely come from Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon), a member of Japan`s team at last year`s World Road Running Championships, and Kei Terada (Team Tenmaya), 2nd place finisher at last year`s Universiad Half Marathon Championships. Machida`s teammate Hiroko Shoi also has potential for a good showing.

Takaoka comes to Sendai a month after finishing 16th in the Paris Marathon. The half marathon is the only standard distance from 3000 m to full marathon in which Takaoka has never been the national record holder, but he still holds one of the fastest PBs in the field. He will, however, face a difficult challenge in Sendai from many of the younger runners. Potential winners include defending champion Ombeche Mokamba (Team Aidem), Kenyans Harun Njoroge (Team Komori) and Joseph Mwaniki (Team Konica-Minolta), who finished 1-2 at February`s Marugame Half Marathon, Arata Fujiwara (Team JR East), a half marathon specialist who finished 2nd at February`s Tokyo Marathon, Kazuo Ietani (Team Sanyo Special Steel), the 2nd place finisher at March`s Jitsugyodan Half Marathon Championships, and Masaki Shimojo (Team Konica-Minolta), winner of February`s Kumanichi 30 km Road Race.

Top competitors in Sendai:

Women
Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), PB: 1:07:43 (2006)
Tomoko Tamamushi (Harriers AC), PB: 1:09:50 (2000)
Nozomi Iijima (Team Sekisui Kagaku), PB: 1:10:40 (2003)
Yuko Machida (Team Nihon ChemiCon), PB: 1:11:55 (2007)
Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon), PB: 1:12:22 (2008)
Kei Terada (Team Tenmaya), PB: 1:12:37 (2007)
Seyo Hayakawa (Team Sekisui Kagaku), PB: 1:14:22 (2008)
Chiyuki Mochizuki (Team Yamada Denki), PB: 1:15:26 (2005)
Kozue Saito (Team Sports Yamagata 21), PB: 1:15:34 (2007)
Saori Hieda (Bukkyo University), PB: 1:16:28 (2007)
Megumi Oshima (Team Shimamura), PB (marathon): 2:24:25 (2005)
Mizuho Kishi (Team Yamada Denki), PB (5000 m): 17:42.68

Men
Masatoshi Ibata (Team Aisan Kogyo), PB: 1:00:55 (1996)
Toshinari Takaoka (Team Kanebo), PB: 1:01:07 (2003)
Kazuo Ietani (Team Sanyo Special Steel), PB: 1:01:30 (2001)
Harun Njoroge (Team Komori Corp.), PB: 1:01:35 (2008)
Toshihiro Iwasa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), PB: 1:01:36 (2005)
Joseph Mwaniki (Team Konica-Minolta), PB: 1:01:39 (2008)
Tetsuo Nishikawa (Team YKK), PB: 1:01:48 (2001)
Ombeche Mokamba (Team Aidem), PB: 1:02:29 (2007)
Arata Fujiwara (Team JR East), PB: 1:02:17 (2006)
Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki), PB: 1:02:44 (2007)
Masaki Shimojo (Team Konica-Minolta), PB (30 km): 1:30:33 (2008)
Hideyuki Obinata (Team Fujitsu), PB (marathon): 2:08:52 (2001)

A complete listing of the inivted athletes for this year's Sendai Half can be found at:

http://www.sendaihalf.com/jp/history/18-2008athletes/

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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