SAPPORO – Akinobu Murasawa and Honami Maeda booked a spot in the qualifying race for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathon after winning the Hokkaido Marathon on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Murasawa took the tape in 2 hours, 14 minutes and 48 seconds in the men’s race, while Maeda clocked 2:28:48 in the women’s.
The Hokkaido Marathon is the inaugural race of the new Marathon Grand Championship Series, which will determine the runners for the Marathon Grand Championship to be held after September 2019.
The series consists of five races for the men, four for the women, and will be held over two seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19. The top two men and women each in the Grand Championship qualify automatically for the Tokyo Olympic marathon.
Murasawa and Maeda both met the qualifying standard for the Grand Championship in the Hokkaido Marathon. Male runners had to win in under 2:15:00 or finish sixth in a time of better than 2:13:00; female runners had to win in 2:32:00 or place sixth in 2:30:00.
“I tried not to think that this was part of the selection process for the Tokyo Olympics,” said Murasawa, who finished 28th in the Lake Biwa Marathon in March.
“Nothing good comes from being too greedy. I want to improve by just doing my best one race at a time.”
Maeda hopes to win a medal at the Tokyo Games.
“The last part was tough, but I managed to finish it out. I’m happy,” Maeda said. “I want to qualify for the Olympics and win a medal by competing with athletes from around the world.”