by Brett Larner
Beijing Olympics women's marathon 5th place finisher Mara Yamauchi (U.K.) outran Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) for the second time this year to defend her Matsue Ladies Half Marathon title. Strong winds kept times slow overall, but Yamauchi won by nearly a minute in 1:10:09 with Kano 2nd in 1:11:02. Meijo University runners took 3rd through 5th place to sweep the National University Women's Half Marathon Championships and assure Meijo of solid representation on the national team at July's World Student Games.
The expected three-way battle up front did not take place when 2009 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) felt some discomfort in her left knee and opted to jog the 10 km race as a guest runner. As in February's Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon Yamauchi went out hard, covering the first 5 km in 16:17 to Kano's 16:36 with a large pack led by Meijo runners Kikuyo Tsuzaki, Sayo Nomura and Seika Nishikawa running a more conservative 17:02. Yamauchi then continued to widen her lead, running each of her subsequent 5 km splits faster than Kano. Kano in turn widened her lead over the top pack through 15 km, but between 15 and 20 km she lost 11 seconds to the Meijo runners.
The final 1.0975 km were a game of chase, as Tsuzaki and Nomura continued to close on Kano, who likewise narrowed the gap to Yamauchi. In both cases the margins were too large, however, and the final finish order remained as it had been throughout much of the race. Yamauchi and Kano will next face each other in April's London Marathon. Tsuzaki will be selected for the World Student Games and is likely to be joined by at least Nomura.
Complete results for the 2009 Matsue Ladies Half Marathon are available in PDF format here. The race will be broadcast nationwide on Mar. 17 from 2:55 a.m. to 3:50 a.m. on Fuji TV. International viewers should be able to watch online through one of the sites listed here.
2009 Matsue Ladies Half Marathon
1. Mara Yamauchi (U.K.) - 1:10:09
2. Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) - 1:11:02
3. Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Meijo Univ.) - 1:11:53
4. Sayo Nomura (Meijo Univ.) - 1:11:54
5. Seika Nishikawa (Meijo Univ.) - 1:12:04
6. Ayaka Ohira (Team Daihatsu) - 1:12:13
7. Satoko Uetani (Kobe Gakuin Univ.) - 1:12:29
8. Seika Iwamura (Team Daihatsu) - 1:12:30
9. Manami Takemori (Team Sysmex) - 1:12:34
10. Misato Tanaka (Team Sysmex) - 1:12:40
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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