Skip to main content

Shibui vs. Radcliffe and Akaba vs. Goucher

by Brett Larner

Although it is always difficult to compare performances in different races, the results of the top finishers in this past Sunday's Osaka International Women's Marathon had interesting parallels to those from November's New York City Marathon. New York's course is generally perceived as more difficult, but both courses feature significant up-down. Apart from New York's uphill start, both courses' major hills occur on the sections between 13 and 15 km and between 24 and 27 km, with rolling net uphill in the final 5 km. Osaka's course also has a significant hill at 31 km.

The first table below lists the 5 km splits for the two winners, Osaka champion and former national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), and New York victor and world record holder Paula Radcliffe (U.K.). The second table lists the 5 km splits for Osaka runner-up Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and New York 3rd-place finisher Kara Goucher (U.S.A.), both of whom were running their debut marathons.














While the Osaka race held a relatively steady pace through 30 km, New York began slowly and progessively built up through 20 km. The pace slowed going over the 59th St. Bridge at 25 km, but after coming off the bridge Radcliffe accelerated, holding a higher tempo of 3:19-3:20/km for the next 10 km, accelerating to 3:17/km from 35-40 km, then fading to 3:19/km in the final stretch.

Shibui waited until nearly 30 km before picking up the pace from an average of 3:28/km to 3:14/km through 35 km, slipping back to 3:19/km through 40 km, then closing with her fastest splits, averaging 3:12/km for the last stage. Although Shibui's times led Radcliffe's until 25 km, the two runners' relative positions flip-flopped for the rest of the race with an identical clocking of 2:16:40 at the 40 km mark.

As another way of looking at the splits, both runners clocked 3:27/km for the hilly 5 km leading into their spurts. Shibui then dropped down to 3:14/km followed by 3:19/km versus Radcliffe's 3:19/km and 3:20/km splits for the two 5 km sections following the winners' attacks. Radcliffe timed her move earlier and had to run an additional 5 km at higher pace; whether Shibui could have gotten away with timing her surge earlier like Radcliffe and running the 25-30 km section through Osaka Castle 30 to 45 seconds faster is a valid question. Given the strength shown in her closing kick and the energy with which she jumped around celebrating her win, the answer is probably yes. Shibui's closing kick surpassed that of the world record holder and was all the more impressive for having taken place during sleet, making her prospects at this summer's World Championships very enticing indeed.














In the case of debutantes Akaba and Goucher, both runners stayed with the eventual winners until the big moves at 30 km and 25 km respectively. Each runner accelerated from 3:27/km pace to 3:19/km for the next 5 km, then by 40 km faded to 3:31/km in Akaba's case and 3:29/km in Goucher's. Like Shibui and Radcliffe's 40 km tie, Akaba and Goucher's 40 km marks were only one second apart. Again paralleling the winners, Akaba kicked back down to 3:27/km for the last 2.195 km during sleet while Goucher sank to 3:34/km, her slowest of the race apart from the leisurely first 5 km. Akaba finished 1:58 behind Shibui, while Goucher finished 1:57 behind Radcliffe. With both Akaba and Goucher debuting as part of a buildup plan to the London Olympics it will be interesting to track their development in coming years.

Nobby Hashizume of the Lydiard Foundation has another analysis of Shibui's performance here.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Takushoku Teammates Lemeteki and Akasaki Sub-62 For 1-2 at Ageo City Half Marathon

Takushoku University teammates Joseph Razini Lemeteki and Akira Akasaki dominated the 2019 Ageo City Half Marathon, alternating the lead throughout almost the entire race to go 1-2 in school record times.

With invitations to the 2019 United Airlines NYC Half up for grabs to the top two Japanese collegiate finishers in the unofficial intramural tryout for Japan's most prestigious race, the 2020 Hakone Ekiden, things went out very conservatively by Ageo standards at just 3:00/km for the first 2 km. Not content with that, Akasaki, 3rd on his stage at both the Izumo Ekiden in October and the National University Ekiden earlier this month, picked up the race and carried it until 15 km. From 3 km to 8 km Akasaki split 14:33, pace for 1:01:24, condensing the pack behind him down to eight.


After the 10 km turnaround Akasaki's teammate Lemeteki made a bold move to gain contact with the lead group, and when he did it shaved things down to seven serious contenders. The front group stayed …

Japanese Amateur Yamaguchi and Ugandan Kusuro Break Kobe Course Records

Amateur Japanese club runner Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) and Ugandan Geoffrey Kusuro had dominant wins at the 9th running of the Kobe Marathon Sunday, both running PBs and winning by almost 4 minutes in course record time.

Yamaguchi, who ran a PB 2:33:06 in Sydney in September and dropped a surprise 31:58 at last weekend's East Japan Women's Ekiden, slipped away early, never challenged by the pack of invited African elites or by friend and rival club runner Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto). Going through halfway faster than her half marathon PB in 1:13:08. She slowed slightly in the second half, especially on the large bridge out to the island finish line, but her win was never in doubt as she broke the tape in 2:27:39. Previously, the fastest pure amateur Japanese women's marathon performance was Chihiro Tanaka's 2:29:30 in Nagoya in 2002. Breaking that by almost two minutes, Yamaguchi staked her claim as Japan's best-ever amateur.


2nd through 5th were close together…

800 m High School National Record Holder Clay to Attend Texas A&M

2019 men's 800 m national champion and Soyo H.S. 3rd-year Aaron Tatsunami Clay will enroll in America's Texas A&M University next September, it was learned on Nov. 14. Until then he plans to remain based at Soyo in preparation to go for the win at next year's National Championships and to clear the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifying standard.

The prestigious Texas A&M is where Donovan Brazier (U.S.A.), winner of the gold medal in the men's 800 m at this fall's Doha World Championships, is enrolled. Soyo H.S. head coach Mitsuru Zeniya, 53, who accompanied Clay on a visit to see the university, was supportive of Clay's decision and goals, saying, "He just barely missed the World Championships qualifying standard. If he trains with athletes who are stronger than him he'll grow more."

Last year at the October Niigata Autumn Time Trials meet Clay set a national high school record of 1:47.51 for 800 m. At the National Championships in June this yea…