On Sunday, the starting signal will be given for what could be the most high-profile marathon race of the year.
Both marathon world record holders will be competing in the Tokyo Marathon 2022. In the men's race, this applies to the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, in the women's race, compatriot Brigid Kosgei is the favourite.
Strong competition for Kipchoge and Kosgei
Brigid Kosgei holds the marathon world record since 2019 with 2:14:04 hours (run at the Chicago Marathon), Eliud Kipchoge ran an unprecedented 2:01:39 hours at the Berlin Marathon in 2018. Both are naturally favourites to win the day in Tokyo. But neither Kipchoge nor Kosgei will be able to take it for granted. The competition is extremely strong.
Kipchoge wants No. 4
For Eliud Kipchoge it is about another step towards his big career goal. He wants to win all six World Marathon Majors before possibly switching to ultra running after the 2024 Olympic Games. The 37-year-old has already checked off London, Berlin and Chicago. Now Tokyo is to follow. After that, only the two classics in the USA would be open: New York and Boston.
Kipchoge's goals: Victory, course record and even the world record?
Eliud Kipchoge is competing in Tokyo for the first time, although it is now his second marathon in Japan in less than a year. Last summer he won the Olympic marathon in Sapporo. In addition to his goal of winning the day, Kipchoge will also be aiming for the course record, which has been held by his compatriot Wilson Kipsang since 2017 with 2:03:58 hours. Whether even the world record of 2:01:39 hours is within reach remains an open question. In any case, the Tokyo course is one of the fastest marathon courses in the world, as evidenced by the women's course record of 2:17:45 set by Israel's Lonah Chemtai Salpeter in 2020.
First half under 61 minutes
The primary goal in Tokyo, however, remains victory for Kipchoge and thus another step on the way to the Six World Marathon Majors. Kipchoge wants to cover the half marathon mark in well under 61 minutes, which obviously also points to an attack on his own marathon world record.
Hardest competitor missing after all
It remains to be seen whether other athletes besides the pace setters and Eliud Kipchoge will want to keep up with this high pace. But it will definitely not be easy for Kipchoge. Four runners with best times under 2:04 hours will be at the start. The biggest competitor could be Mosinet Geremew, who has a best time of 2:02:55. Kipchoge's training colleague and possibly toughest competitor Birhanu Legese (PB: 2:02:48 hours), however, was removed from the start list at short notice. Amos Kipruto (Kenya, 2:03:30 hours) and Amsterdam champion Tamirat Tola (Ethiopia, 2:03:39 hours) also have best times under 2:04 hours and want to make a splash in Tokyo. Local hero Kengo Suzuki (PB: 2:04:56 hours) also has a chance for a top place. Shura Kitata (PB: 2:04:49 hours), who won the elite marathon in London in 2020 and was responsible for one of only two marathon defeats of Eliud Kipchoge, will also start.
Kosgei wants to get back on track
In the women's race, too, winning the Tokyo Marathon will not be a piece of cake for Brigid Kosgei. Moreover, the Kenyan has proven several times recently that she is not unbeatable. At the Olympic Games in Sapporo she had to settle for silver behind Peres Jepchirchir, and at the London Marathon last year she only came fourth.
Serial winner Angela Tanui wants to continue her winning run
With her marathon world record of 2:14:04 hours, Kosgei is almost four minutes ahead of the second-fastest runner on the entry list for the Tokyo Marathon, but the competition is very dangerous. Especially team mate Angela Tanui is burning for another win and possibly even another course record after her course record at the Amsterdam Marathon (2:17:57 hours). Last year, Tanui won all three of her marathons (Dhaka, Siena, Amsterdam), now she wants to win her fourth marathon in a row.
Other runners under 2:20 hours
The two Ethiopians Ashete Bekere (PB: 2:18:18 hours) and Hiwot Gebrekidan (PB: 2:19:35 hours) are also strong contenders. The 33-year-old Bekere finished 3rd ahead of Kosgei in the 2021 London Marathon, and in 2019 she won the Berlin and Rotterdam marathons. Hiwot Gebrekidan was successful in Milan in 2021 and second in the Berlin Marathon.
38-year-old US runner in top form
The strongest Japanese woman in the field is Mao Ichiyama with a best time of 2:20:09 hours. Berlin Marathon winner Gotytom Gebreslase (PB: 2:20:09 hours) will also be competing in Tokyo, as will 38-year-old Sara Hall (PB: 2:20:32 hours), who set a US record over the half marathon distance earlier this year.
Tokyo Marathon: LIVE video
The Tokyo Marathon starts at 9:10 am Japanese local time or 1:10 am Central European Time. Unfortunately, the race will not be broadcast on free TV. The race can be seen in 63 countries via the Eurosport player. Canal+, Flotrack and ESPN will also broadcast the Tokyo Marathon live.