by Brett Larner
The organizers of the 33rd edition of the Osaka International Women's Marathon on Jan. 26, 2014, have announced their elite field. With places on the 2014 Asian Games team at stake, national record holder, Athens Olympics gold medalist and 2003 Osaka winner Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) leads the way along with fellow late-career greats Mari Ozaki (Team Nortiz) and 2011 Osaka winner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), the latter of whom has already announced her retirement following Osaka. Noguchi was on the entry list the last two years only to pull out shortly before the race and run March's Nagoya International Women's Marathon instead, so whether she actually starts remains to be seen.
Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) tops the younger set after showing great potential in Osaka last year, with Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) on the roster after struggling in all her marathons since winning Osaka in 2012 in a solid 2:23:23. Promising debutantes include Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Sairi Maeda (Bukkyo Univ.).
The small highly international field includes seven athletes from seven different countries. Defending champion Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) looks like the only one likely to be able to contend with the front end of the Japanese pack, and if recent history is any indication she will win the race with a strong negative split and devastating last 10 km like she and seemingly every Eastern European woman to race in Japan have over the last few years. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland), Marta Lema (Ethiopia) and Hellen Mugo (Kenya) are the only other women in the field to have broken 2:30.
The Osaka International Women's Marathon will be broadcast live nationwide. Check back closer to race date for updates, withdrawals and information on how to follow the race live.
33rd Osaka International Women's Marathon Elite Field
click here for complete field listing
31. Mizuki Noguchi (Japan/Team Sysmex) - 2:19:12 (Berlin 2005)
32. Risa Shigetomo (Japan/Team Tenmaya) - 2:23:23 (Osaka Int'l 2012)
33. Mari Ozaki (Japan/Team Noritz) - 2:23:30 (Osaka Int'l 2003)
1. Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine) - 2:23:58 (Osaka Int'l 2013)
34. Yukiko Akaba (Japan/Team Hokuren) - 2:24:09 (London 2011)
35. Yuko Watanabe (Japan/Team Edion) - 2:25:56 (Osaka Int'l 2013)
2. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland) - 2:26:45 (Lodz 2013)
3. Marta Lema (Ethiopia) - 2:28:02 (Kosice 2013)
4. Hellen Mugo (Kenya) - 2:29:59 (Kosice 2012)
5. Louise Damen (Great Britain) - 2:30:00 (London 2011)
6. Natalya Puchkova (Russia) - 2:30:17 (Hannover 2012)
7. Deborah Toniolo (Italy) - 2:31:20 (Padova 2009)
36. Hiroko Miyauchi (Japan/Team Kyocera) - 2:32:20 (Yokohama Int'l 2009)
37. Sayo Nomura (Team Daiichi Seimei) - debut - 1:10:27 (Sapporo Half 2013)
Sairi Maeda (Bukkyo Univ.) - debut - 32:51.53 (Fukagawa 2013)
(c) 2013 Brett Larner
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