Bornes Jepkirui Kitur of Kenya celebrates while crossing the finish line to win the women's Prague Marathon on May 6, 2018 in Prague. / AFP PHOTO /

Prague Marathon champion Bornes Jepkirui will be heading the Kenyan cast at the Osaka Women’s Marathon on Sunday.

Jepkirui ran a well calculated first half of the race to take leadership from Amane Gobena of Ethiopia, who had crossed the 25km marker in 1:24.40 in Prague, clocking 2:24:19.

She crossed the finish line ahead of Ethiopians Belaynesh Oljira (2:25:13) and Amane Gobena, who finished third in 2:27:43. 

Jepkirui will be running alongside her compatriot Eunice Jeptoo.

Last year’s Osaka Marathon was dominated by Japanese women, with Mizuki Matsuda taking the title and Honami Maeda and Yuko Ando coming in second and third respectively.

Jeptoo, the defending champion of the Eindhoven Marathon in Netherlands, will be the athlete to beat at the Osaka Women’s Marathon, having clocked 2:26:13 in October in her win at the Eindhoven Marathon.

In the Dutch city, Jeptoo improved her lifetime best by more than six minutes.

The Kenyan cast will, however, face stiff competition from Ethiopia’s Fayesa Robi, who recorded 2:27:04 in Barcelona last March, an improvement of more than five minutes.

The 2019 Osaka race is also part of Japan’s Marathon Grand Championship series, a group of qualifying races for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathon team trial race.

There will also be Izabela Trzaskalska of Poland, who has a marathon best of 2:29:56.
Japanese athletes are led by Nagoya marathon silver medalist Yuko Ando (2:21:36), Honami Maeda and Mizuki Matsuda.

Other domestic invited runners include Kaori Yoshida and Asami Furuse.

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