translated and edited by Brett Larner
Running in cool, rainy conditions on Nov. 24, Julia Mumbi of Team Aruze won the Kobe All-Japan Women's Half Marathon for the 2nd straight year, covering the course stretching from the HAT Kobe Center to Kobe Harborland in a time of 1:09:45. Team Toyota Jidoshoki's Akane Wakita was 12 seconds behind in 2nd place, with Team Kyocera's Maki Suzawa a distant 3rd in her half marathon debut. Right from the start it was a match race between Mumbi and Wakita, but when Mumbi attacked at 15 km she was easily able to pull away for the win.
Somewhat overshadowing Mumbi's victory was the surprise appearance of Athens Olympics marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) as a guest runner in the 10 km race, her first public run since withdrawing from the Beijing Olympics marathon with an injury. Noguchi was scheduled to appear at the Kobe Women's Half Marathon as a guest award presenter, but the night before she told race organizers that she felt like running too. She ran the race amid the amateurs in the field, finishing the 10 km course in a time of 46 minutes.
Noguchi afterward reported that the run had felt very good. She said that she is still only doing light jogging but that her condition has improved to the point where she is doing rehabilitation exercise to prepare her body to resume normal marathon training. The 2004 Olympic champion added that she is eager to race again and that as the first step in her comeback on the way to London, running Kobe had given her important encouragement.
Translator's note: Both Team Aruze and Team Toyota Jidoshoki are coached by Yoshio Koide, coach of 2000 Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former marathon world record holder Naoko Takahashi.
2008 Kobe All-Japan Women's Half Marathon Top Finishers
1. Julia Mumbi (Team Aruze) - 1:09:45
2. Akane Wakita (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 1:09:57
3. Maki Suzawa (Team Kyocera) - 1:12:29
4. Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 1:12:42
5. Mai Kizaki (Team Kyocera) - 1:12:58
6. Akemi Ozaki (Second Wind AC) - 1:13:39
7. Yumiko Hara (Team Kyocera) - 1:13:45
8. Minori Hayakari (Kyoto Koka AC) - 1:14:19
9. Satoko Uetani (Kyoto Gakuin Graduate School) - 1:14:23
10. Mika Hikita (Team Aruze) - 1:14:57