Photo/IllutrationShogo Nakamura crosses the finish line at the Marathon Grand Championship in Tokyo on Sept. 15, with runner-up Yuma Hattori seen behind. (The Asahi Shimbun)

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Four runners earned berths in the Tokyo Summer Olympics at the Marathon Grand Championship on Sept. 15, the first qualifying race for marathoners who will represent Japan next year.

Shogo Nakamura won the men’s part of the race with a time of 2 hours, 11 minutes, 28 seconds, while Honami Maeda claimed the women’s title by finishing in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 15 seconds.

Yuma Hattori and Ayuko Suzuki also punched their tickets for the Tokyo Games by placing second in the race that wound through central Tokyo.

The route is basically the same as the one that will be used at the Olympics next summer.

Japan will send six marathoners to the Tokyo Games.

The remaining two slots will go to those who finish within designated standards at three international events in Japan scheduled in and after December.

The threshold for men is 2 hours, 5 minutes, 49 seconds; and that for women is 2 hours, 22 minutes, 22 seconds.

If no one can meet those standards, Suguru Osako and Rei Ohara, who both finished third at the Marathon Grand Championship, will qualify.

Osako holds the Japanese men’s record of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 50 seconds.

Japan previously picked its six marathon representatives based on their performances at three major events in Japan as well as the world championships in the year before the Olympics.

In the men’s race on Sept. 15, Yuta Shitara, a former Japanese record holder, jumped out early and led his rivals by more than two minutes at one point, but he finished in 14th place.

Hiroto Inoue, a favorite along with Osako, Shitara and Hattori, came in 27th, the last among those who completed the course.