The race is a World Championship qualifier.
Yumiko Hara and Yukiko Akaba are the pre-race favorites at the 30th annual Osaka Women’s Marathon on Sunday. The race is especially important for Japanese runners, because it serves as a qualifying race for the upcoming World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
According to an article on the IAAF Web site, the course has been modified with several steep hills removed around Osaka Castle.
Yumiko Hara won the race in 2007 with a 2:23:48, while Yukido Akaba boasts a 2:24:55 marathon PR. Akaba thinks her marathon time can be improved, because her 10,000m PR (31:15.34) and half marathon PR (1:08:11) suggest she has more potential at the 26.2-mile distance.
Japanese competitors aside, there is a strong contingent of international runners. Leading that group is the Russian, Lyudmilla Petrova. Petrova has a 2:21:29 marathon PR, making her the fastest runner on paper.
Petrova is also the fastest Masters female of all time with a 2:25:43 that she set at the ING New York City Marathon in 2008. She is 42 years old now and stands a chance of breaking Priscilla Welch’s world record for the fastest marathon by a 42 year old (2:26:51).
For More: IAAF