Skip to main content

First-Time Winner Mara Yamauchi Takes Osaka in 2:25:10 PB, Kayoko Fukushi 19th in Debut

by Brett Larner

Mara Yamauchi (GBR, Second Wind AC) took a surprise win in cold, windless, intermittently snowy conditions at the Osaka International Marathon, running a PB of 2:25:10 for her first marathon victory. Taking the lead at 34.63 km from struggling first-time marathoner Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), Yamauchi powered her way to the win, holding off a late charge from top Japanese finisher Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya). Morimoto finished 2nd in 2:25:34, a good time but not strong enough to seal her a spot on the Beijing Olympic team. Her fate is left up to the runners in March's Nagoya International Marathon, including Naoko Takahashi, Naoko Sakamoto, and possibly defending Osaka champion Yumiko Hara who dropped out shortly before today's race with a cold. Yamauchi's teammate Yuri Kano, one of the pre-race favorites, dropped out of the race with leg pain after only 17 km.

Osaka's other major pre-race favorite, Japanese national 3000 m, 5000 m and half marathon record holder Fukushi, had a disastrous but courageous debut. Fukushi took the lead from the first km, going out completely alone at an aggressive sub-2:20 pace while the large pack settled around 2:23 pace. Fukushi held roughly to 3:20/km for the first 25 km, looking relaxed, smooth and powerful, laughing at teammates' messages written on her drink bottles, gargling with her special drink, and repeatedly waving off camera bikes that came too close. Naoko Takahashi's Sydney-era coach Yoshio Koide commented on-screen that he thinks Fukushi has the potential to run 2:16 in the future, but that the truth of her debut would come in the final 10 km.

After 30 km she began to show signs of strain, slowing to 3:42 during the 32nd km versus a 3:21 by the chase pack of Yamauchi, Morimoto, Julia Mombi (Team Aruze), and fellow 1st-time marathoner Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko). During the 33rd km Yamauchi broke away from the other runners with a 3:18 km. Fukushi rapidly lost her lead of over 500 m, surrendering 1st place to Yamauchi at 34.63 km and to the others shortly before 35 km. She continued to slow to 6 minutes per km and beyond.

Her final km was a replay of that of Hiroyuki Ono in the final km of this year's Hakone Ekiden 5th stage. Fukushi staggered, almost falling several times before finally going down in the last 800 m. She got up and continued, but after entering the stadium she abruptly fell flat on her face. After struggling to stand and pausing to regain her bearings, Fukushi resumed running. With less than 200 m to go she fell again, laughing as she got up and continued on only to fall a final time 10 m from the finish. She once more forced herself up, laughing and bleeding, and crossed the finish line in 19th place with a time of 2:40:54, a humbling demonstration of the marathon's power.

Among the many PBs in the top 10, Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) deserves special mention. Unable to stay with the chase pack of 4 runners, Ohira had fallen back and was running alone in the final 10 km. After overtaking Fukushi, Ohira was able to run hard enough to catch up to debutante Ogi and finish 4th in 2:26:09, a PB by 3 1/2 minutes.

In her post-race victory interview, Yamauchi, speaking in Japanese, said that she had learned from running the Osaka course during last summer's World Championships marathon. In that race Yamauchi had attacked during the course's hilly pass through the Osaka Castle grounds, a move which she admitted had taken too much out of her. She told interviewers that this time she was resolved to save some energy for the end. Race announcers noted the obvious effects in this regard of Yamauchi's first-ever 45 km training run. "Today was only a 3 second PB; I hoped to run faster but a win is a win!" Yamauchi enthusiastically smiled during the interview, thanking spectators for their warm support in the midst of the snowy conditions.

1. Mara Yamauchi (GBR, Second Wind AC): 2:25:10 (PB)
2. Tomo Morimoto (Team Tenmaya): 2:25:34
3. Julia Mombi (Kenya, Team Aruze): 2:26:00 (PB)
4. Miki Ohira (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo): 2:26:09 (PB)
5. Madoka Ogi (Team Juhachi Ginko): 2:26:55 (debut)
6. Lidia Simon (Romania): 2:27:17
7. Mika Okunaga (Team Kyudenko): 2:27:52 (PB)
8. Aki Fujikawa (Team Shiseido): 2:28:06
9. Constantina Tomescu (Romania): 2:28:15
10. Christelle Daunay (France): 2:28:23 (PB)

19. Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal): 2:40:54

Complete results are available here.
Click here for the IAAF's coverage.

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Scott Dunlap said…
Thanks for the great synopsis, Brett. It sounds like quite a race!

SD

Most-Read This Week

Kariuki Cracks Course Record at 30th Anniversary Ageo City Half Marathon

2017 Kanto Regionals 10000 m and half marathon D2 champion Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.)  overcame windy conditions at the 30th edition of the Ageo City Half Marathon to shave one second off the course record, winning in a PB 1:01:25.

Kariuki and 2017 Kanto Regionals D1 5000 m and 10000 m champ Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) took it out in the first km, setting up a fascinating duel between Kanto's top two collegiate men on the track.


Led by Hayato Seki, star runner of this year's Izumo Ekiden champ Tokai University in his half marathon debut, the main body of the Japanese pack gradually relinquished the lead to the Kenyan pair, down 50 seconds by 10 km and continuing to drift back from then. Ageo has typically seen its lead Japanese collegiate men running between high-61 and mid-62, but nobody in the field seemed willing to go ahead of Seki and the runner on his shoulder, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.).


Near …

Kosimbei, Kwemoi and Shitara Lead Hachioji 10000 m Field

Nestled deep in the misty foothills of the western Tokyo mountains, Hosei University's late November Hachioji Long Distance meet has quietly turned into one of the world's premier track 10000 m, its A-heat never quite dipping under 27 minutes yet but still producing record-setting depth and the two fastest Japanese men's 10000 m in history.
This year's entry list is another monster, with 27:02.59 man Nicholas Kosimbei (Toyota) leading 17 men with recent times under 28 minutes, twelve of them Kenyan, three Japanese and two Ethiopian. Fresh off a 27:22.73 win at last weekend's Nittai University Time Trials, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) is slated to pace what is scheduled to be a sub-28 race, but with Kosimbei, sub-27:30 men John Maina (Fujitsu) and Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) and five others under 27:45 including last year's winnerRonald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) on the list the front end should go faster. 
Rig…

Krifchin and Lemciyeh Win Kobe Marathon

The Kobe Marathon held its 7th running on Nov. 19.  19,709 runners took part in this year's race, with 600,000 people cheering them on along the course between the start at Kobe City Hall and the finish in the Kobe Harbor area which this year celebrates its 150th anniversary. American Maegan Krifchin, 29, won the women's race in a course record time of 2:33:14. Khalil Lemciyeh of Morocco also broke the men's course record, winning in 2:12:49.

The Kobe Marathon is organized by the Hyogo Prefectural Government and the City of Kobe. 7,500 volunteers helped runners over the course of the three days of race weekend. This year the turnaround point moved 1.25 km to the west, taking runners under Akashi Kaikyo Bridge for the first time. The final section of the course on Port Island was shortened to make up the distance. At noon at the finish area temperatures were 12 degrees with 65% humidity. 18,949 people finished the race.

At the starting ceremony in front of City Hall, a mom…