Lonah Chemtai Salpeter and Ruth Chepngetich (© Getty Images / organisers)
World marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich and Tokyo Marathon winner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter will renew their rivalry at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon – a World Athletics Elite Platinum Label road race – on Sunday (13).
Athletes in Nagoya will be racing for the largest first prize in the world of marathon running: US$250,000. Being the world’s largest women’s marathon, one of the world’s top-level races, and the only women’s race with a World Athletics Platinum Label, the Nagoya Women’s Marathon continues to be a global leader in women’s running.
To date, Chepngetich has won five of the seven marathons she has completed, and still made it on to the podium in her other two. The consistent Kenyan had her best year in 2019, starting with her 2:17:08 PB in Dubai in January, then following it eight months later by winning the world title in Doha.
Like many athletes, she had a low-key year in 2020 but still finished third at the London Marathon in 2:22:05. Last year she failed to finish the Olympic marathon but rebounded two months later by taking victory in Chicago in 2:22:31.
While the 27-year-old appears to be more focused on victories than records, she is more than capable of producing fast times, too. In April last year she set a world half marathon record of 1:04:02 in Istanbul.
"I chose to run the Nagoya Women’s Marathon because Japan is a nice place and the environment is good," said Chepngetich. "And, as women, we have to encourage ourselves and do better. I'm looking forward to a nice race and I'd like to set a PB."
Chepngetich’s only competitive outing so far this year was at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships in Eldoret in January where she finished sixth – roughly in line with her performances at that event in previous years. She feels far more at ease racing on the roads, though.
So too does Salpeter. The Israeli distance runner won the 2020 Tokyo Marathon in a lifetime best of 2:17:45, having previously set national records when winning in Prague and Florence. Her return to Japan for the Olympics in 2021 didn’t quite go to plan as she finished down in 66th, but she bounced back in October to place fifth in London in 2:18:54.
"I’m happy to be here," said Salpeter. "It's my first time and I hope to do my best on Sunday. My training has been good. I was in Kenya for eight weeks, so I’m ready for Sunday. I’m trusting my training."
This could be the first time Chepngetich and Salpeter have a true clash over the marathon distance. In their two previous encounters over the distance, Salpeter failed to finish at the 2019 World Championships while Chepngetich did likewise at the Tokyo Olympics. Their only other duel to date was at the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, where Salpeter finished just one place ahead of Chepngetich.
Four years on from that, and over double the distance, this weekend’s race could be a different story.
They are among four sub-2:24 athletes entered for the event, as Japan’s Yuka Ando and Reia Iwade lead a strong Japanese contingent.
Ando ran her PB of 2:21:36 when finishing second in Nagoya in 2017 and started this year with a half marathon personal best of 1:08:13 in Yamaguchi, while Iwade ran her best marathon time of 2:23:52 in Nagoya in 2019.
Australia’s Sinead Diver will be making her third Nagoya appearance. She finished 10th in 2017 with a then PB of 2:31:37, then recorded a DNF in 2020. Now with a best of 2:24:11 and a 10th-place finish at last year’s Olympics, the 45-year-old could content for a top-five finish.
Japan’s Rie Kawauchi and marathon debutantes Kaena Takeyama and Yuka Suzuki are also athletes to look out for. Depending on their placing and position, the top Japanese finishers could earn selection for the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 or Japan’s Olympic Trials race for the 2024 Games.
Kenya’s Stellah Barsosio, Japan’s Mao Uesugi and Britain’s Charlotte Purdue will be among the pace-making team.
Last year’s edition of the Nagoya Women’s Marathon was held as a domestic race, and was won by Japan’s Mizuki Matsuda in 2:21:51.
Ten years on since the inaugural edition of the race in 2012, the Nagoya Women's Marathon continues to be the leading women-only marathon in the world. It attracted 21,915 runners in 2018 - a world record for a women-only marathon. After receiving the Japan Olympic Committee Women and Sport Award in 2017, the race was awarded the International Olympic Committee Women and Sport Achievement Diploma in 2019 for playing a significant role in the increase of women runner population in Japan.
The race, which starts at 9:10am local time on Sunday, will be streamed live to 33 countries and regions (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, and United States of America).
Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 2:17:45
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (ISR) 2:17:45
Yuka Ando (JPN) 2:21:36
Reia Iwade (JPN) 2:23:52
Sinead Diver (AUS) 2:24:11
Rie Kawauchi (JPN) 2:25:35
Hanae Tanaka (JPN) 2:26:19
Mirai Waku (JPN) 2:26:30
Ayano Ikemitsu (JPN) 2:26:07
Ai Hosoda (JPN) 2:26:34
Chiharu Ikeda (JPN) 2:27:39
Eloise Wellings (AUS) 2:29:19