Bahraini distance runner Shitaye Eshete (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Osaka, Japan

Shitaye to take on top Japanese talent in Osaka

Bahrain’s Shitaye Eshete will be looking to break up the Japanese dominance of the Osaka Women’s Marathon when she competes at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on January 29.

The 26-year-old may not have the fastest PB of the field, but Eshete’s impressive CV and 2:25:36 debut in Dubai earlier this year suggests she has the potential to win in the Japanese city next month. She finished sixth in the 10,000m at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships and at the London 2012 Olympics, where she set a national record of 30:47.25.

Five of the past six editions of the Osaka Ladies Marathon have been won by Japanese women, and with this year’s race doubling up as one of the selection races for the IAAF World Championships London 2017, it’s no surprise that there is a strong domestic field.

Risa Shigetomo’s PB of 2:23:23 makes her the fastest of all the entrants. She is also the only former Osaka winner in the field, having won in 2012. She finished fifth at this year’s Osaka Marathon and second in 2015.

Mai Ito, who finished seventh at the 2015 World Championships, will also be looking to secure her spot on the team for London. She is yet to win a marathon, but her highest finish over 26.2 miles came in Osaka in 2011.

No one in the field is more familiar with the Osaka course than Mari Ozaki. Now 41, Ozaki will be making her eighth appearance at the Osaka Marathon, although she won’t be expected the challenge the PB of 2:23:30 she set back in 2003.

Other Japanese runners in the field include 2013 Osaka runner-up Yuko Watanabe, Gold Coast Marathon champion Misato Horie, and 2016 Osaka third-place finisher Risa Takenaka. The international runners include Poland’s Iwona Lewandowska, USA’s Serena Burla and Ethiopia’s Muluhabt Tsega.

Elite field

Risa Shigetomo (JPN) 2:23:23
Mari Ozaki (JPN) 2:23:30
Mai Ito (JPN) 2:24:42
Shitaye Eshete (BRN) 2:25:36
Yuko Watanabe (JPN) 2:25:56
Misato Horie (JPN) 2:26:40
Iwona Lewandowska (POL) 2:27:47
Serena Burla (USA) 2:28:01
Risa Takenaka (JPN) 2:28:09
Kaori Yoshida (JPN) 2:28:43
Muluhabt Tsega (ETH) 2:29:17
Jin Lingling (CHN) 2:30:27
Yuka Takemoto (JPN) 2:31:02
Misaki Kato (JPN) 2:31:04
Aya Higashimoto (JPN) 2:31:28
Hiroko Miyauchi (JPN) 2:32:20
Cassie Fien (AUS) 2:33:17
Munkhzaya Bayartsogt (MGL) 2:33:31
Hanae Tanaka (JPN) debut