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Shimahara 3rd in Chicago Marathon

by Brett Larner

The warm conditions and slow early pace at the 2008 Chicago Marathon played straight to the strengths of Second Wind AC's Kiyoko Shimahara, who tied former national record holder Yoko Shibui's 3rd place finish for the best mark ever set by a Japanese woman in Chicago. The extremely slow first half dashed Shimahara's hopes of a PB performance, but she lived up to her reputation as a strong heat runner and powerful finisher by dropping a chase pack which included Beijing Olympics marathon gold medalist Constantina Tomescu-Dita (Romania) and two-time defending champion Berhane Adere (Ethiopia) and overtaking breakaway pack member Bezunesh Bekele (Ethiopia) to take 3rd in 2:30:19. In a post-race interview Shimahara commented,
We started slow, so I gave up on running a PB pretty early on and decided to just go for a good race. I came to Chicago with a lot of confidence and the weather was good [laughing], so even though I couldn't meet my time goal I wanted a good result. I'm very, very happy with placing 3rd and want to thank everyone who helped get me here. It was good.

Team JR Higashi Nihon's Arata Fujiwara was also confident heading into Chicago. Fujiwara said he would be aiming for Toshinari Takaoka's national record of 2:06:16, set in Chicago in 2002. He looked relaxed and enthusiastic before the start and began well, putting himself in the lead pack running just under 2:06 pace and looking comfortable, but just past 5 km he began to drop away and eventually finishing 16th in 2:23:10. An extremely disappointed Fujiwara afterward told reporters,
The pace wasn't something I can't run, but I couldn't run it. I guess that just shows my weakness, and that's hard to face. I couldn't run the way I did in practice. This race was a failure. When I saw the winner's expression I really wanted it to be me. I'll be back to win.

Longtime Japan resident and six-time Chicago top-3 placer Daniel Njenga's poor 2008 season continued as he marked his worst-ever showing in Chicago, finishing 9th in 2:17:33.

Complete results from the Chicago Marathon are available here.

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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