by Brett Larner
Mara Yamauchi in Marugame. Click photo to visit Yamauchi's blog.
Japan-resident British runner Mara Yamauchi's strong 2008 continued on into 2009 as scored a resounding victory at the 2009 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon on Feb. 1, running a sixteen-second PB of 1:08:29 on the event's new course to win by almost a minute over her strongest competitor Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC), winner of the 2008 Sapporo and Rock 'n' Roll San Jose half marathons. General division runner Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) rounded out the top three, while Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), running Marugame as a preparation run for her final race at next month's Tokyo Marathon, was a surprise 4th in 1:10:58. Times were fast overall with two women in the top eight besides Yamauchi clocking PBs and another three recording fast debuts.
In the men's race, Marugame record holder Mekubo Mogusu (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) led rival Kenyan student runner Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) through the early stages of the race before easily dispatching him for a perfunctory 1:00:37 win nearly a minute off his 2007 time. Although Mogusu and Gitau said prior to the race that they were targeting 59 minutes, both runners are scheduled to run the Feb. 20 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon and may have been saving themselves for that race's more competitive field. Mogusu showed continued development as he did not overreact to the pressure of having Gitau tailing him through the first half of the race.
Asian half marathon record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) was a distant 3rd, winning a sprint finish against a dense pack of top Japanese runners, every single one of whom ran a PB. Sato never attempted to lead the pack, tailing the pack leaders throughout the race and then easily outsprinting all with 300 m to go. "I'm in the middle of marathon training," commented Sato afterwards. "I cleared my target for this race, so I'm satisfied. I could feel that I need to work on my stamina, though."
Complete results for the Marugame Half Marathon are available here.
2009 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon Top Finishers
1. Mara Yamauchi (U.K.) - 1:08:29 - PB
2. Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) - 1:09:22
3. Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) - 1:10:24
4. Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:10:58
5. Yumi Hirata (Team Shiseido) - 1:11:18 - PB
6. Rieko Sakane (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 1:11:29 - debut
7. Kaori Urata (Team Tenmaya) - 1:11:35 - debut
8. Yoshie Uehashi (Team Toto) - 1:11:39 - PB
9. Miho Notagashira (Team Wacoal) - 1:11:47
10. Rika Shintaku (Team Shimamura) - 1:11:49 - debut
1. Mekubo Mogusu (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:00:37
2. Daniel Gitau (Nihon Univ.) - 1:01:34 - debut
3. Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:02:24
4. Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:02:26 - PB
5. Makoto Tobimatsu (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:26 - PB
6. Tomoaki Bungo (Team Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:27 - PB
7. Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:29 - PB
8. Sota Hoshi (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:30 - PB
9. Yuki Nakamura (Team Kanebo) - 1:02:32 - debut
10. Hideyuki Anzai (Team JAL Ground Service) - 1:02:33 - PB
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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