Kenya’s Dickson Chumba will be attempting to reclaim the Tokyo Marathon title on Sunday in Japan.
Chumba won the 2014 edition of the race in a course record of 2 hours, 05 minutes and 42 seconds but finished third last year, although he won the Chicago Marathon eight months later.
Chumba faces compatriots Emmanuel Mutai, who is the fastest in the field and Abel Kirui, the 2009 and 2011 World champion. Other Kenyans in the men’s field are Eliud Kiptanui and Bernard Kipyego.
Eliud Kipchoge and Mary Keitany will be watching today’s Tokyo Marathon with keen interest, hoping they’ll travel back to Kenya Sh100 million richer.
Kipchoge and Keitany lead in the men’s and women’s overall standings of the 2015-16 World Marathon Majors series and both hope it stays that way at the end of today’s race so that they each rake in the $500,000 (Sh50 million) jackpot on offer each for series’ men’s and women’s winners.
The pair have their fingers crossed as the Tokyo Marathon, which actually starts tonight at 2am (Kenyan time) has a huge bearing on the probabilities at the top of the series table.
Both are not running, but have been invited for a post-race party that will celebrate the end of the 2015-16 World Marathon Majors series where they will, hopefully, walk away with the big cheques.
Former winner Dickson Chumba and World marathon silver medallist Helah Kiprop are on the start list in Tokyo, and the duo can spoil the party for Kipchoge and Keitany in the “grand slam” of marathon running.
The series points system awards 25 points for a win, 16 for a second place finish, nine for third, four points for fourth and one point for fifth with the best results from two races counting towards the athletes’ ranking.
Victory for Chumba tonight means he will be equal on 50 points, same as Kipchoge while Keitany’s big pay day could be upset by any winner between Kirop (32 points) or the Ethiopian pair of Birhane Dibaba (34 ) and Aberu Kebede (16).
Keitany, winner of the series jackpot in 2012, leads with 41 points.
Tokyo Marathon race director Tadaaki Hayano has put together quite strong fields in men and women’s categories to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the annual race which will mark the completion of the 2015-16 WMM series.
The next series cycle will start with the Boston Marathon on April 18 and end with the 2017 Boston Marathon and will include the Rio Olympic Games’ men’s and women’s races.
“Over the last several years, the elite field has improved step by step to world class level and this year’s field may be the best ever. Without question, this year’s women’s field is the best ever assembled in the Tokyo Marathon,” said Hayano in his pre-race brief.
Tokyo winners will each earn $85,000 (Sh8.5 million) and with this weekend’s weather forecasted to be warmer than last year, it promises to be potentially the fastest ever Tokyo Marathon race.
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