Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Keizo Yamada Completes Final Boston Marathon

by Brett Larner

81 year-old Keizo Yamada, the 1953 Boston Marathon winner, returned to this year's race on Apr. 20. Yamada successfully finished his 18th Boston in 6:16:56 after a first half of 2:33:29. Universal Sports reports that Yamada intends this year's running to be his last.

A laughably slow women's race gave Team Toto's Tomoe Yokoyama and amateur runner Hiroko Sho some unexpected international camera exposure as they ran at the head of the elite women's pack in the earliest stages of the race. Yokoyama had suffered injuries since winning February's Ome Marathon 30 km road race and hoped only to break 2:40, meaning that the lead pack's speed throughout the first 10 km of the race suited her fine. As the pace crept glacially forward Sho drifted away, but Yokoyama moved to the front and alternated the lead with veteran American Colleen de Reuck. Only nearing halfway, for which Yokoyama clocked 1:19:59, did she begin to lose contact, eventually fading to 2:47:57. Sho ran more evenly and was not far behind in 2:49:37.

Team Chugoku Denryoku's Kurao Umeki ran Boston just shy of a month after a disappointing run in the windy Tokyo Marathon, but his luck did not improve overseas. Umeki, arguably the most prolific overseas marathoner among Japan's professional runners, needed to break 2:10 to have a chance of making the Berlin World Championships team under Rikuren's new selection policy but a 1:06:33 first half meant even this time was out of reach. He faltered dramatically in the wind and hills in the second half of the race, finishing in 2:26:27. Umeki briefly made the broadcast coverage of this year's Boston as he rounded the final corner, waving to cheering spectators along the course.

Japan's wheelchair athletes in Boston had stronger showings than its runners. Wakako Tsuchida took her third Boston title in the women's race, covering the course in 1:54:37 and winning easily by a margin of nearly 7 minutes. Paralympian Masazumi Soejima took 2nd in the men's race behind 7-time winner Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa, recording a time of 1:36:57 to Van Dyk's 1:33:29.

Complete listings of top finishers and searchable results are available here.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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