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Posted: October 22, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Olympic Medalists Lead Field For First Yokohama Women's Marathon

From David Monti
© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Last November's Tokyo International Women's Marathon was the 30th and final edition of one of the most storied all-women's road races in history. Race champions included Olympic medalists Derartu Tulu, Naoko Takahashi, Mizuki Noguchi, Joyce Chepchumba, Valentina Yegorova, and Liz McColgan. Furthermore, it was regularly used as a qualifying race for Japanese women looking to make world championships or Olympic Teams. Perhaps more than any other marathon, Tokyo Women's lifted the profile of women's running throughout the world.

Although the Tokyo race is gone, a new event has risen to take its place, also organized by the same parties: JAAF and the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. The inaugural Yokohama Women's Marathon will be held on Sunday, November 15, and will kick things off with Olympic medalists of their own.

Leading the field will be the gold and silver medalists from Beijing, Romania's Constantina Dita and Kenya's Catherine Ndereba. Dita, at 38, became the oldest-ever Olympic Marathon champion with a brave solo run in the second half of the race, running an Olympic record 2:26:44. Ndereba, who did not realize that Dita had slipped away from the field, grabbed the silver medal for the second time in her career, outsprinting China's Zhou Chunxiu on the track at the Bird's Nest stadium by just one second in 2:27:06.

Also coming to the race from overseas will be Ethiopia's Robe Guta, Lithuania's Zivile Balciunaite, Italy's Bruna Genovese, and Russia's Inga Abitova.

The leading Japanese entrants are Kiyoko Shimahara, Miki Ohira, Hiromi and Takami Ominami and Hiroko Miyauchi. About 400 women are expected to take part in the invitational race.

The race will be held on an undulating three-loop course with elevations between 1.5m and 12.0m.

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