MARTIN MATHATHI TO DEFEND HIS FUKUOKA MARATHON TITLE
Provided by IAAF
Kenya’s Martin Mathathi will defend his Fukuoka Marathon title on Sunday 7 December 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 IAAF Gold Label Road 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, but the Japan-based runner 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 last 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.
With places at the 2015 IAAF World Championships at stake, as Fukuoka is one of four races being used to decide the Japanese team for Beijing, 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 although it dates from 2003, is also in the field.
The race will also see former 1500m and 5000m national champion Yuichiro Ueno make his debut over the classic distance.
In total, organisers announced eight runners with personal bests below 2:08 and 13 below 2:10.
Ken Nakamura and organisers for the IAAF
Leading overseas entrants (with personal best times):
Patrick Makau KEN 2:03:38
Raji Assefa ETH 2:06:24
Joseph Gitau KEN 2:06:58
Dmytro Baranovskyy UKR 2:07:15
Isaac Macharia KEN 2:07:16
Martin Mathathi KEN 2:07:16
Yared Asmerom ERI 2:07:27
Henryk Szost POL 2:07:39
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir MGL 2:09:00
Cuthbert Nyasango ZIM 2:09:52
Mekubo Mogusu KEN 2:11:02