by Brett Larner
Kentaro Ito of Team Kyowa Hakko Bio outlasted an international cast of rivals at the 39th Hofu Yomiuri Marathon on Dec. 21, running 2:16:01 in stormy conditions to score his first win in the race where he set his PB back in 2001.
2008 Asian Marathon Champion Koichiro Fukuoka (Team Mitsubishi Juko) ran as the designated pacemaker, taking the lead pack of 22 through 5 km in 15:42. Just before 10 km, 2008 Beijing Olympics Test Marathon winner Batochir Serod (Mongolia) lost patience and set off on his own, reaching 10 km in 31:14, 7 seconds ahead of Fukuoka and the pack. At 15 km he was 44 seconds up in 46:26, and at 20 km was 1:06 ahead in 1:01:54. Halfway came for Serod in 1:05:16, well ahead of the pace he ran in his 2:14:15 PB win in Beijing. Fukuoka brought the pack, now down to 11, through the half in 1:06:26.
Fukuoka bowed out after reaching 25 km in 1:18:51, at which point only 7 runners remained in pursuit of Serod who was all but invisible and now 1:37 ahead. Serod continued to press on, hitting 30 km in 1:33:38, 1:39 ahead of the chase pack. Following pacemaker Fukuoka's departure Ito was now at the head of the pack, now reduced to Ito, former Kanebo stalwart Akinori Shibutani, now running for Team Yanagawa Seiki, Hisashi Kazami (Team Aisan), and marathon debutant Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku).
As is so often the case, things changed after 30 km. Serod began to slip, his lead down to 54 seconds. Kazami had fallen far behind, and Shibutani was 10 seconds adrift of Ito and Kasuya. Serod soon went into freefall, Ito breaking away from Kasuya to take the lead. Ito reached 40 km alone in 2:08:21, Kasuya far behind at the mark in 2:09:08, with Serod 3rd in 2:09:40. Close behind in 4th was Kachi-Tsu Chao (Taiwan), who had run patiently in the rear throughout the race and waited until the final 10 km to advance.
Ito held on to his lead, winning in 2:16:01. Kasuya was next in 2:17:10, an unremarkable time considering his 30 km PB of 1:30:40 from February's Kumanichi 30 km but a respectable debut in light of the conditions. Kasuya barely held off a charging Chao, who finished 2 seconds back in 3rd with a slim PB of 2:17:12. Serod paid dearly for his ambitious early pace, sinking to a 2:19:08 6th place finish.
Complete results for the 2008 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon including splits are available here.
2008 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon - Top Finishers
1. Kentaro Ito (Team Kyowa Hakko Bio) - 2:16:01
2. Satoru Kasuya (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 2:17:10 - debut
3. Kachi-Tsu Chao (Taiwan) - 2:17:12 - PB
4. Yongjian Ou (China) - 2:18:03
5. Toyokazu Yoshimura (Osaka Rikkyo) - 2:18:44
6. Batochir Serod (Mongolia) - 2:19:08
7. Akinori Shibutani (Team Yanagawa Seiki) - 2:19:27
8. Tomohiro Minami (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:19:50
9. Hisashi Kazami (Team Aisan) - 2:20:19
10. Junji Mishima (Team Toenic) - 2:20:51
(c) 2008 Brett Larner
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