2012 Beppu-Oita Marathon – PREVIEW

Article by Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
3rd February, 2012 

Abdellah Falil and Samson Ramadhani will be among the favourites at the 61st Beppu-Oita Marathonon Sunday (5). Ramadhani and Falil are the only runners at this IAAF Silver Label Road Race with personal best under 2:10. Ramadhani, the 2003 Beppu-Oita Marathon champion, is the fastest runner in the field at 2:08:01. He also ran in Beppu last year, but lost contact with the leaders early and was only 34th. Falil has the next fastest personal best at 2:08:18, which was recorded in April of last year in Daegu. In his most recent Marathon, Falil was seventh at the ING New York City Marathon. Since Ramadhani has broken 2:10 only once in the last seven years while Falil ran his best last year, he may be considered the favourite on Sunday.

Other non-Japanese invited runners include: Poland’s Adam Draczynski who has a best of 2:10:49; Australian Jeff Hunt (2:11:00), Ser-Od Bat-Ochir of Mongolia (2:11:35), Ethiopian Desta Gebrehiwet (2:11:55), Yakob Jarso who is making the Marathon debut, and Kenyan Harun Njoroge (2:11:43).

Hunt has run in the last two Beppu-Oita Marathons, and both time he came from behind in the last half of the race. He ran especially well in 2010 when he set his personal best and finished third. Like Hunt in 2010 Njoroge came from behind strongly in 2011 to set a personal best. Later in the summer of 2011 Njoroge won the Hokkaido Marathon. Bat-Ochir, who ran his personal best in 2011, is prolific Marathon runner, having run four in 2011 and six in 2010. Most recently he won December’s Hofu Marathon with the second fastest time of his career.

Gebrehiwet has only one Marathon to his credit, fourth in Venice in 2011 with 2:11:55. Since he rarely races internationally even at short distances, it’s hard to assess his chance at Beppu. However, for example, since both Dino Sefer and Dadi Yami improved their marathon personal bests by more than five minutes to sub-2:06 clocking in Dubai recently, it will not be a surprise if Gebrehiwet runs a similar time in Beppu.

The most intriguing runner in the field is debutant Jarso. Although his personal best in the 3000m Steeplechase is only 8:12.13, he was fourth in the the 2008 Olympics and fifth at the 2009 World Championships. Historically, success in the Steeplechase translates to Marathon success. For example, two-time Olympic Marathon champion Waldemar Cierpinski started as a steeplechaser, and Gaston Roelants, the 1964 Olympic Steeplechase champion, won a silver medal in the Marathon at the 1969 European Championships.

Several great runners have made their Marathon debuts in Beppu. Koichi Morishita won the 1991 edition in his debut and went on to win Olympic silver in 1992. Hiromi Taniguchi won in 1985 also in his debut and then took the 1991 World title. Can Jarso, who used to run for Honda, make a spectacular marathon debut as well?

Because this is not an Olympic qualifying race for Japanese, the domestic field is quite modest. Anybody who has a realistic chance of making the Olympic team is running elsewhere. So the fastest Japanese is Yusuke Moriaki who ran a relatively slow 2:12:34 in last year’s Beppu-Oita Marathon. Other invited Japanese are Kenji Takeuchi who has a best of 2:12:44; Keisuke Wakui (2:13:31); and Masanori Ishida (2:13:54). A Japanese has not won this race since 2008.

So the race is likely to be fought between Falil, Gebrehewet and Jarso in front, with Njoroge possibly coming from behind.  The race record is 2:08:30 by Gert Thys from 1996, which is quite soft for such a flat and presumably fast course. A new record is long overdue.

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF

Note: A statistical reference on the race(PDF, 1 MB), prepared by Nakamura, is attached in the ‘Related Items’ section at right. Nakamura is solely responsible for all content.

Invited Runners:
Samson Ramadhani (TAN)  2:08:01  2003 London
Abdellah Falil (MAR)       2:08:18  2011 Daegu
Adam Draczynski (POL)   2:10:49  2010 Wien
Jeffrey Hunt (AUS)     2:11:00  2010 Beppu-Oita
Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (MGL)  2:11:35  2011 London
Desta Gebrehiwet (ETH)  2:11:55  2011 Venezia
Yacob Jarso (ETH)  Debut  1:00:07  2010 New Delhi half marathon
Harun Njoroge (KEN)     2:11:43  2011 Beppu-Oita

Domestic runners:
Yusuke Moriwaki     2:12:34  2011 Beppu-Oita
Kenji Takeuchi     2:12:44  2011 Nobeoka
Keisuke Wakui     2:13:31  2011 Lake Biwa
Masanori Ishida     2:13:54  2011 Nobeoka

Pace makers:
Stephen Chelimo (KEN)  1:01:03  2007 Den Haag
Wilson Kigen (KEN)     2:08:16  2008 Frankfurt
Takuya Fukatsu     1:02:31  2007 Marugame


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