translated by Brett Larner
The organizers of the 27th Sendai International Half Marathon on May 14 have announced the field of four domestic invited elite athletes. Former Hakone Ekiden star Masato Imai (33, Team Toyota Kyushu) and civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) top the list.
During his days at Juntendo University Imai was crowned "God of the Mountain" after winning the Hakone Ekiden's uphill Fifth Stage three years in a row. In the marathon he went on to run 2:07:39 two years ago to become the sixth-fastest Japanese man ever. He won the Sendai International Half Marathon for the first time last year.
Kawauchi is running Sendai for the sixth year in a row. A member of the 2011 and 2013 World Championships marathon teams, Kawauchi won the bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games. Named to the 2017 London World Championships team alongside Kawauchi, Kentaro Nakamoto (34, Team Yasukawa Denki) is also set to run Sendai.
Topping the women's field is Reia Iwade (22, Team Noritz) who in 2014 ran the fastest marathon time ever by a Japanese woman under age 20. 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympian Hiroyuki Yamamoto, 50, leads the field of four invited athletes in the wheelchair race.
Former women's marathon world record holder and 2000 Sydney Olympics gold medalist Naoko Takahashi, 44, returns as a special ambassador. Guest runners include 1991 Tokyo International Women's Marathon winner Mari Tanigawa, 54, and two-time Olympic marathoner Takeyuki Nakayama, 57. 12,053 people are entered in the half marathon, with an additional 2,688 entered in the 5 km and 2 km divisions.