If Chepkemoi wins, she will be the first Kenyan winner of this race since Catherine Ndereba claimed victory back in 2006.
Kenya’s Maurine Chepkemoi will be gunning for victory at this year’s Osaka Marathon taking place on Sunday 29 January 2023.
Japanese women have dominated the race in recent years, winning six of the past seven editions. But the presence of Chepkemoi, Haven Hailu and Meseret Gola means there’s a high probability of an overseas visitor winning this year’s race.
Chepkemoi and Hailu have raced before, at the 2021 Amsterdam Marathon, where both women set their lifetime bests. Kenya’s Chepkemoi finished just one second ahead of Hailu on that occasion, 2:20:18 to 2:20:19, so the Ethiopian will he highly motivated for revenge.
Both women went on to contest two marathons in 2022. Chepkemoi won in Enschede in 2:21:10 and then ran 2:25:12 in Berlin, but finished outside the top 10. Hailu, meanwhile, won in Rotterdam in 2:22:01 but then failed to finish in Chicago.
So this race will be a chance for redemption after both women had somewhat frustrating performances in their big city races at the end of last year. If Chepkemoi wins, she will be the first Kenyan winner of this race since Catherine Ndereba claimed victory back in 2006.
But Gola, Hailu’s fellow Ethiopian, should also be in contention for victory. A consistent performer, she has finished runner-up in four of her past six marathons. She set a PB of 2:20:50 when finishing second in Seville last year, and came close to matching that in Berlin seven months later with a 2:20:58 clocking to place fifth, comfortably ahead of Chepkemoi.