Skip to main content

Wanjiru Wins Fukuoka in Course Record 2:06:39

by Brett Larner

World half-marathon record holder Samuel Wanjiru (Kenya) won his debut marathon at today`s Fukuoka International Marathon, smashing the course record by 12 seconds to finish in 2:06:39. Second place finisher Deriba Merga (Ethiopia) also went under the old course record to finish in a major PB of 2:06:50. Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) had the breakthrough he had been hoping for, running an excellent 2:07:13 PB to seal a place on the Japanese men`s marathon team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The day was sunny and cool with steady breezes, a day made for excellent performances. Wanjiru and Merga`s times were the second and third-fastest ever run in Japan and the first time two 2:06 performances have taken place in the same race in Japan. Sato`s result ranks him as the fourth-fastest Japanese runner of all time. Together, the three runners` marks rank Fukuoka second only to Amsterdam in the world this year.

Other pre-race favorites did not fare as well. Sato`s teammate Shigeru Aburaya was fifth yet again in 2:10:30. Former course record holder Atsushi Fujita was unable to respond to Wanjiru`s move after 30 km and finished eighth in 2:12:29, falling dramatically just meters before the finish. Japanese national record holder Toshinari Takaoka was tenth in 2:13:40, indicating that his days as a top-tier athlete are likely over.

Yuko Matsumiya, who received little pre-race attention compared to the other four invited runners, had a solid run to finish fourth in 2:09:40, just seconds off his PB. Depending upon the results in the remaining two Olympic selection races, the Tokyo Marathon in February and the Biwako Mainichi Marathon in March, Matsumiya has a good chance of being selected for the Olympic team and going to Beijing with his identical twin brother Takayuki, who will run the 10000 m.

Wanjiru indicated in interviews that he will go for a much faster time in London next year to make the Kenyan Olympic team. "It goes without saying that Kenyans are fast. 2:06 isn`t good enough to make the team for certain, so I will be aiming for a 2:05 in London."

IAAF coverage of Fukuoka

(c) 2007 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Stephen Lacey said…
Wanjiru ran a great race. Steady and composed. Even though Merga also still looked fairly comfortable at 40k, when the time to drop him came, Wanjiru did it with ease. A sensational debut. The joy on Sato's face for achieving his breathrough run was also great to see.

How did our correspondent fare?

Most-Read This Week

Japan's 2020 Tokyo Olympics Marathon Trials Are Here - MGC Race Viewing Guide

It’s almost here. Japan’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials. The Marathon Grand Championships Race. All of Japan’s best marathoners. All in one place. All in one race. What the people have always wanted. The first national Olympic trials race to be recognized with Gold Label status by the IAAF. The only one that legitimately met the Gold Label requirements. It was the hardest marathon ever to qualify for. It should be the best marathon of 2019. It could be the most tedious. Maybe both.

If you’re in Japan you can watch the live broadcast of the men’s race on TBS at 8:50 and the women’s race on NHK starting twenty minutes later. If you’re not in Japan your options for being part of it are limited. There is an official live stream of the men's race via Paravi, a paid service with a 30-day free trial. It's not clear if it's available overseas and signup looks to be only in Japanese. NHK's TV broadcast is available in some areas outside Japan. It’s also live streaming b…

Nakamura and Maeda Win Japanese 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials

After an almost two-year qualification period that made it the most difficult marathon in history to get into, Japan's Marathon Grand Championship 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials went off perfectly Sunday in warm and sunny conditions. Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu), 4th in Berlin last year, and 2018 Fukuoka winner Yuma Hattori (Toyota) went 1-2 in a 3-way sprint finish against national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) to score places on the Olympic team, with 2017 Hokkaido Marathon winner Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) taking the women's race and 2018 Hokkaido winner Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) holding off Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) to join Maeda on the Tokyo lineup.

It was a sign of the level of commitment that this generation brought, of what next summer's Olympics are going to be like, that both the women's and men's races went out at national record pace, but the two couldn't have been more different. In the women's race, 9 of the 10 starters went out fas…

Japan Announces Doha World Championships Team

Following the end of the qualification period for the 2019 Doha World Championships, the JAAF announced additions to the initial Japanese National Team roster released earlier in the summer. Along with the additions, the JAAF made public that Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Univ. of Florida) will not run the 200 m in order to focus on the 100 m and relay, and that Kazuya Shiojiri (Fujitsu), the only Japanese man to have cleared the Doha standard, will not race due to an apparent injury following a fall last week in Zagreb. Final changes to the team roster, if any, are expected to be announced Sept. 17.
Japanese National Team, Doha World Championshipsas of Sept. 11, 2019
times listed are best within qualifying window
100 m Hurdles  - Asuka Terada (Pasona Group) - 12.97
100 m Hurdles - Ayako Kimura (Edion) - 13.11

Long Distance
5000 m - Nozomi Tanaka (Toyota Jidoshokki TC) - 15:15.80
5000 m - Tomoka Kimura (Shiseido) - 15:19.99
5000 m / 10000 m - Rina Nabeshima (Japan Post) - 15:21.40 / …