Japanese Marathon Champion to Run NYC Race

By Susannah Griffee
|  Saturday, Mar 19, 2011  |  Updated 1:11 PM EDT
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The Japanese runner who will compete in a <a title=New York race after the tsunami and earthquake prevented her from being able to defend her winning marathon title at the Nagoya International Women?s Marathon in Japan weighs in on the crisis abroad." />

The Japanese runner who will compete in a New York race after the tsunami and earthquake prevented her from being able to defend her winning marathon title at the Nagoya International Women?s Marathon in Japan weighs in on the crisis abroad.

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Yuri Kano lost her chance to defend her winning marathon title at the Nagoya International Women’s Marathon in Japan, but she has the opportunity to win another race this weekend – in New York.

“They canceled Nagoya the day before the race, so I didn’t know where to go, what to do. I have been preparing for the marathon for a long time,” Kano said.

After the devastating earthquake and tsunami canceled the Japan marathon, Kano’s coach, Manabu Kawagoe, asked if it was possible for Yuri to compete in this weekend’s NYC Half Marathon.

Her agent, Brendan Reilly, called New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.

“She sent me a clear and emphatic message: ‘Absolutely. We will figure out a way to get Yuri to New York,'" Reilly said.

Wittenberg praised Kano as a "tough, gutsy runner" and said the city and organization was proud to embrace all of Japan.

Kano said she will honor Japan by doing her best at the race this Sunday.

This is my way of cheering them up,” said Kano.

The runner said her friends and family are all safe, but says it has been difficult to concentrate amid the unfolding disaster in Japan.

Kano had hoped to win again at Nagoya and qualify to represent Japan at the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Daegu, South Korea, this summer.

Kano has run the NYC half three times, in 2008, 2007 and 2006.

She came in third in 2008 and fourth in 2007 and 2006. She placed ninth in the ING New York City Marathon 2009 after a significant fall early in the race. She ran her half-marathon career best, 1:08:57, in Sapporo in 2008.

Mara Yamauchi of Great Britain won the women’s NYC half last year, with a time of 1:09.17.

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