2014 Elite Male Runners: Koji Kobayashi | NBC Chicago
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2014 Elite Male Runners: Koji Kobayashi

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    japanrunningnews.com
    Koji Kobayashi

    Koji Kobayashi leads a strong contingent of Japanese runners in this year's race.

    He started this year with a personal best at the 2014 Tokyo Marathon, finishing ninth in 2:08:51. That gives him the eighth-fastest time in the field.

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    Kobayashi has some familiarity with the Chicago course, having run here in 2012.

    Moving up to the next level in order to place against this field may be asking a bit much, but with competent countrymen Satoru Sasaki and Ryosuke Fukuyama also in the race, the Japanese could challenge and make things interesting.

    "We've had a great relationship with the Japanese Federation," race director Carey Pinkowski said. "We're partners with the Tokyo Marathon and the Japanese record was set by a Japanese runner in Chicago, so Japanese athletes know it's a great place to run."