translated and edited by Brett Larner
Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), on track to defend her Olympic marathon gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, travelled to Beijing on June 27 for a series of test runs on the Olympic marathon course. Noguchi reported that she would be doing the test runs at jogging pace to reconfirm her image of the course after viewing videos and previous test runs as well as to get an idea of the weather conditions in Beijing.
At 4:00 p.m. on June 28 Noguchi ran 26 km of the course, accompanied by her coach Hisakazu Hirose and wearing the race shoes custom-made for her by Asics` master craftsman Hitoshi Mimura. The two covered the final 15 km of the Olympic course in one hour. Conditions during the test run were approximately 25 degrees with light rain, giving an excellent idea of the degree to which weather will be the biggest enemy during the Olympic race. Noguchi`s head coach Nobuyuki Fujita commented that the Noguchi team is paying special attention to its drink supply for the Olympics.
At 5:20 a.m. on June 29 Noguchi ran the middle section of the course, covering the section from 11 km to 27 km in approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Concerning the shoes Mimura made for her Olympic run, Noguchi said, "Yesterday I felt that the soles were too hard, but today I think that such rigidity is going to help me when I need to lay down some speed."
On June 30, before returning to Japan Noguchi ran the same 26 km of the Olympic course as on the 28th. She felt that the pavement around the Beijing University section of the course was very hard, and not to her liking. The third of her test runs on this trip did, however, help with her mental preparations. "I have an excellent mental picture of the course now." Noguchi also expressed that she is "very satisfied" with Mimura`s shoes.
Noguchi completed a two-week training camp at Nagano Prefecture`s Sugadaira Takahara the day before travelling to Beijing and reported feeling in excellent shape and motivated since her victory at May`s Sendai International Half Marathon. "I feel as powerful as I did in Athens. My biggest rival (in Beijing) will probably be myself. Other contenders will be there, but with the heat and conditions they will have to deal with they won`t be feeling up to normal. Anyway, I`m approaching this win with tenacity, aggression and discipline."