translated and edited by Brett Larner
Running for two-time defending champions Team Sysmex, Beijing Olympic marathon team leader Mizuki Noguchi ran the anchor leg of the 4 x 400 m relay on May 18 at the Kansai Jitsugyodan Track and Field Championships in Hyogo. Noguchi received the baton in 5th place but, despite being an Olympic marathon gold medalist and ekiden ace, was unable to pass even a single runner and came home in 5th.
For Noguchi, who turns 30 on July 3rd, this was the last race she will run in her 20`s. "I did what I could," commented Noguchi afterwards. "It goes without saying that the 400 m is a speed race, so it was pretty tough. I did kind of want to end [my 20`s] with a little stronger performance than this, but I feel freed now to put all my focus into my marathon preparations." Asked for her opinion of marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe`s current injury troubles, Noguchi replied, "She is the kind of woman who can do anything."
Noguchi leaves for her high-altitude training camp in Sugadaira, Nagano on May 20 to begin her final training for Beijing.