News18 Oct 2014

Olympic champion Gelana heads Yokohama field


Tiki Gelana takes a 2:22:08 win at the 2011 Amsterdam Marathon (© Orange Pictures)

The 6th Yokohama Women's Marathon on 16 November, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, will have Olympic marathon champion Tiki Gelana as their star attraction.

The 26-year-old Ethiopian has not yet returned to the heights she scaled two years ago when she won the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon in what remains her personal best of 2:18:58 and then took the Olympic title, but she has shown good form on the roads over shorter distances in the past seven weeks and could have Lydia Cheromei’s Yokohama course record of 2:23:07, also set in 2012, in her sights.

Gelana has never run a marathon in Japan but she is still familiar with the Japanese roads after winning the 2012 and 2013 Marugame Half Marathon.

The Kenyan pair of Philes Ongori and Caroline Rotich, who have identical bests of 2:23:22, could challenge Gelana and their compatriot’s standard in the Japanese city.

Leading the European contingent will be Ukraine’s Olena Shurhno, along with Portugal’s Marisa Barros.

There are also three Japanese runners with personal bests faster than 2:30, who will be looking to push their credentials for selection to next year’s IAAF World Championships as this race is a selection event for Beijing.

The best of the local runners is Azusa Nojiri, who has a personal best of 2:24:57 from two years ago.

Nojiri did not break 2:30 in her two marathon outings this year but gained the first marathon win of her career when she won in Sapporo in 2:30:26 in August, and that victory will certainly have boosted her confidence.

Phil Minshull and organisers for the IAAF

Elite field (with PBs):

Tiki Gelana (ETH) 2:18:58
Philes Ongori (KEN) 2:23:22
Caroline Rotich (KEN) 2:23:22
Olena Shurhno (UKR) 2:23:32
Azusa Nojiri (JPN) 2:24:57
Marisa Barros (POR) 2:25:04
Zivile Balciunaite (LTU) 2:25:15
Tomomi Tanaka (JPN) 2:26:05
Mayumi Fujita (JPN) 2:29:02
Alina Prokopeva (RUS) 2:30:56
Irvette van Zyl (RSA) 2:31:26
Reia Iwade (JPN) debut