Home > Runs & Races

Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei look for magic again in Tokyo

The first major of the year is here, and this is your complete Tokyo Marathon preview

The first Abbott World Marathon Major of the year is here. The Tokyo Marathon returns this Sunday, March 6, after a two-year hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic. It is not often that you have both the men’s and women’s marathon world record holder in the same race, but at this year’s Tokyo Marathon it’s all fans could ask for.

Brigid Kosgei after her record-setting performance in Chicago. Photo: Twitter/ChiMarathon

The world’s fastest man over 42.2 km, Eliud Kipchoge, makes his return not only to racing, but to Tokyo, where he returns as the double Olympic champion and undisputed fastest marathoner to ever walk this earth. The women’s world record holder and the only woman to ever dip under 2:15, Brigid Kosgei, had to settle for second in her last trip to Japan and will be looking for redemption with a win here in Tokyo.

The women’s preview

In today’s women’s marathoning, there are three or four athletes who are in a league of their own, and Kenya’s Kosgei just happens to be the best of them. Kosgei mentioned after the Olympics that she had a rough day with the heat in the late stages of the race, but the conditions Sunday won’t be nearly as warm as it was in August (currently predicting a high of 12 degrees C). Kosgei will look to get back in the winner’s circle with a course record in Tokyo after finishing fourth at the London Marathon last fall (2:18:40). Although her previous two performances have been lacklustre (by her very high standards), she will be the favourite to win this race.

Brigid Kosgei breaking Paula Radcliffe’s marathon world record at Chicago in 2019

Her compatriot, Angela Tanui, has been on the outside looking in at superstardom. Tanui, who holds the 10th-fastest women’s time in history, won three straight marathons in 2021, in Dhaka, Tuscany and Amsterdam, where she ran the course record of 2:17:57. This race will be only her second marathon major after she DNF’d at the London Marathon in 2016. Tanui has not raced since last October and has set personal bests in her last two races – which could mean she is bound for another PB this Sunday. Ethiopia’s Ashete Bekere, who won in Berlin (2019), beat Kosgei in London this past October (2:18:18) and will look for history to repeat itself in Tokyo.

Angela Tanui put her hands in the air after winning the 2021 Dhaka Marathon

The new U.S. half-marathon record holder, Sara Hall, is the only American runner in the elite field and will look to better the recently-set American record (2:19:12, by Keira d’Amato) to her wall of accolades. Hall is coming off a record-setting performance of 67:15, which she set at the Houston Half Marathon in January. Mao Ichiyama is the top runner from Japan in the field. Ichiyama finished eighth in the Olympic marathon last summer and holds a personal best time of 2:20:29 from winning the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in 2020.

The men’s preview

The 2:01:39 world record holder, Kipchoge, continues his quest toward winning all six Abbott World Marathon Majors at the Tokyo Marathon. His plan is to run fast, Kipchoge told race officials. The double Olympic marathon champion plans to go through the halfway mark in around 60 minutes, to keep the world record in reach. If Kipchoge sticks to his plan, this will be a one-man race. One thing Kipchoge has going for him is that he chose to rest last fall instead of racing, and is therefore coming into Tokyo, fresh and healthy.

Photo: Coros

The man who will certainly be chasing Kipchoge is the fourth-fastest marathoner of all time, Mosinet Geremew (2:02:55), from Ethiopia. The reigning champion, Birhanu Legese, who has won two straight Tokyo Marathons (2019 and 2020), was supposed to race but ended up being a late scratch on the morning of March 4. Geremew came close to winning the London Marathon in 2019 but ultimately finished second to Kipchoge, getting dropped around the 40 km mark.

Among the rest is Amos Kipruto of Kenya, who was a bronze medallist in the marathon at the World Championships in 2019, and Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia, who won silver in the marathon at the World Championships in 2017. Both men have personal bests under 2:04 and the ability to mix it up with the all-time greats.

Kipchoge will have his work cut out for him, with seven other runners in the field with personal best times of sub-2:05. One thing he will have his eyes on is breaking Wilson Kipsang’s course record of 2:03:58, from 2017.

You can check out the full elite list for the Tokyo Marathon, here.

The marathon will start Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. ET. FloTrack will provide LIVE coverage of the 2022 Tokyo Marathon for viewers in the U.S. and Canada, which can be streamed from your desktop, mobile or TV. Now available on Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast and Apple TV.