Stephen Kiprotich crosses the line at the Tokyo Marathon (© AFP / Getty Images)
Stephen Kiprotich, Abel Kirui and Edna Kiplagat – all of whom have won two global titles each – are among the top athletes set to compete at the Tokyo Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on 28 February.
The men’s field also includes three men with PBs faster than 2:05, while the women’s line-up contains the top two finishers from last year.
Emmanuel Mutai is the fastest runner in the men’s field. The Kenyan ran 2:03:13 – the second-fastest time in history on a record-eligible course – when finishing second at the 2014 Berlin Marathon. The Tokyo race will be his first marathon in Asia.
Feyisa Lilesa’s PB of 2:04:52 makes him the second-fastest man in the field. The 2011 world bronze medallist has twice made it on to the podium at the Chicago Marathon.
Dickson Chumba will be contesting the Tokyo Marathon for the third year in a row. The Kenyan set the course record of 2:05:42 when winning in 2014. He finished third in the Japanese capital last year and went on to win the Chicago Marathon eight months later. He had finished third in Chicago 12 months prior, setting a PB of 2:04:32.
Kirui won world titles in 2009 and 2011, followed by an Olympic silver in 2012. The 33-year-old Kenyan set his PB of 2:05:04 at the 2009 Rotterdam Marathon and will be making his third appearance at the Tokyo Marathon.
Kiprotich, the man who beat Kirui to the Olympic title in 2012, is also in the field. The Ugandan followed his Olympic triumph with victory at the 2013 World Championships. He finished second in Tokyo last year, setting a national record of 2:06:33.
Other Kenyans in the field include Berlin Marathon runner-up Eliud Kiptanui and two-time Amsterdam Marathon champion Bernard Kipyego. Eritrea's Teklemariam Medhin, twice a medallist at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, will be making his marathon debut.
The Tokyo Marathon is one of the Olympic team qualifying races for men, so there will be a strong Japanese presence.
Masato Imai, who was the first Japanese finisher at last year’s Tokyo Marathon, will return to the site of his 2:07:39 personal best. He will be challenged by Kohei Matsumura, the top Japanese finisher in 2014, and Kenta Murayama, who will be making his marathon debut.
Kiplagat makes first Tokyo Marathon appearance
Kiplagat, one of just 18 women to have run faster than 2:20, heads the women’s field.
Like Kirui, Kiplagat owns two world titles, having won in 2011 and 2013. She has previously won the London and New York marathons, but this will be her first race over 26.2 miles in Japan.
She will be up against two women who have won in Tokyo in the past three years. Ethiopia’s Birhane Dibaba will be making her third appearance in the Japanese capital. After finishing second in 2014 in a personal best of 2:22:30, she won last year in 2:23:15 and will be aiming to become the first back-to-back winner in Tokyo.
Fellow Ethiopian Aberu Kebede, the Tokyo winner in 2013, will also be on the start line. The 2009 world half-marathon bronze medallist has twice won the Berlin Marathon and set her PB of 2:20:30 there in 2012.
Shure Demise is the third woman in the field with a sub-2:21 PB. The Ethiopian set an unofficial world junior best of 2:20:59 on her marathon debut in Dubai last year. She won the Toronto Marathon nine months later.
Kenya’s Helah Kiprop finished second in Tokyo last year in a PB of 2:24:03 and went on to replicate that position at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.
Ethiopia’s former Osaka and Xiamen winner Amane Gobena and 2:23:43 performer Ashete Dido are also in the field.
Ken Nakamura (organisers) for the IAAF
Elite fields (with PBs)
Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) 2:03:13
Dickson Chumba (KEN) 2:04:32
Feyisa Lilesa (ETH) 2:04:52
Abel Kirui (KEN) 2:05:04
Eliud Kiptanui (KEN) 2:05:21
Bernard Kipyego (KEN) 2:06:19
Stephen Kiprotich (UGA) 2:06:33
Samuel Ndungu (KEN) 2:07:04
Masato Imai (JPN) 2:07:39
Arata Fujiwara (JPN) 2:07:48
Kohei Matumura (JPN) 2:08:09
Hiroaki Sano (JPN) 2:09:12
Koji Gokaya (JPN) 2:09:21
Javier Guerra (ESP) 2:09:33
Takehiro Deki (JPN) 2:10:02
Tsuyoshi Ugachi (JPN) 2:10:50
Hiroyuki Yamamoto (JPN) 2:11:48
Teklemariam Medhin (ERI) debut
Kenta Murayama (JPN) debut
Edna Kiplagat (KEN) 2:19:50
Aberu Kebede (ETH) 2:20:30
Shure Demise (ETH) 2:20:59
Birhane Dibaba (ETH) 2:22:30
Amane Gobena (ETH) 2:23:29
Isabellah Andersson (SWE) 2:23:41
Ashete Dido (ETH) 2:23:43
Helah Kiprop (KEN) 2:24:03
Maja Neuenschwander (SUI) 2:26:49