Alfred Kering and Valentine Kipketer of Kenya will start as favourites at the 21st Nagano Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label road race, Sunday.
Kering is the fastest man in the field with a best of 2:07:11 set in Paris in 2010, one of three sub-2:08 performances the 39-year-old has to his credit.
Jackson Kiprop of Uganda is the next fastest, with a 2:09:32 best from the 2013 Mumbai Marathon. No one else in the field will arrive with sub-2:10 credentials, although Ezekiel Jafari of Tanzania and Kenyan Daniel Kitonyi are two entrants armed with some intriguing stats.
Jafari has clocked 27:39.92 over 10,000m on the track and 1:00:41 for the half marathon, so seems capable of going much faster than his best of 2:11:55. Kitonyi meanwhile, who has a 10,000m best of 27:47.19, will be making his marathon debut.
Asuka Tanaka (2:10:13) and Shoya Osaki (2:10:48) are the two fastest Japanese in the field. Those performances were produced within the past 14 months, so are more indicative of their form than those of the more experienced Kering and Kiprop whose best came in earlier periods of their careers.
Taiga Ito, who won the 2017 Nagano Marathon, is the third fastest among the Japanese. He’s run in this race every year from 2013 to 2017, which could be his advantage Sunday. – IAAF