Tokyo Marathon: Kenenisa Bekele & Ruti Aga to Lead Ethiopian Team

Ruti Aga of Ethiopia crosses the finish line with the second best women’s time during the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo on February 25, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Kenenisa Bekele & Ruti Aga will lead s strong Ethiopian team for Tokyo Marathon, which will be held in the Japanese capital on March 3, 2019.

Multiple world and Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele, who set a national record of 2:03:03 when winning the 2016 Berlin Marathon, will head the men’s field. The Ethiopian set a national record of 2:03:03 when winning the 2016 Berlin Marathon, but he has struggled in some of his races since then. He failed in finish in Dubai in 2017 but rebounded to finish second in London in 2:05:57 three months later.

He then withdrew from the Berlin Marathon later that year before returning to action at the 2018 London Marathon, where he finished sixth in 2:08:53, but recorded another ‘DNF’ at the Amsterdam Marathon in October 2018.

Bekele’s last race in Japan was at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka, where he won the 10,000m – one of his six global titles at the distance.

He is one of five men in the field with PBs faster than 2:05. Fellow Ethiopian Birhanu Legesse ran 2:04:15 in Dubai on his debut at the distance last year and will contest his third career marathon in Tokyo.

Women’s Race

Ruti Aga is the fastest runner in the women’s field. The Ethiopian, who has achieved podium finishes at the Berlin Marathon for the past three years, set a lifetime best of 2:18:34 in the German capital last year to move to sixth on the world all-time list.

Three other women in the Tokyo field have sub-2:20 PBs: Ethiopian duo Feyse Boru Tadese and Yebrgual Melese plus Kenya’s former world half marathon record-holder Florence Kiplagat.

World marathon champion Rose Chelimo is also in the line-up, but such is the quality of the field, her PB of 2:22:51 makes her just the ninth fastest woman on the start list.

Elite Ethiopian Athletes

Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 2:03:03
Birhanu Legese (ETH) 2:04:15
Seifu Tura (ETH) 2:04:44
Deme Tadu Abate (ETH) 2:06:47

Ruti Aga (ETH) 2:18:34
Feyse Boru Tadese (ETH) 2:19:30
Yebrgual Melese (ETH) 2:19:36
Shure Demise (ETH) 2:20:59
Bedatu Hirpa (ETH) 2:21:32
Mimi Belete (BRN)* 2:22:29
Helen Tola (ETH) 2:22:48
Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) 2:33:10 

*Ethiopian-born athlete