Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yoshimura and Tanaka Win in Copenhagen

by Brett Larner

800 m and 1000 m world record holder Wilson Kipketer congratulates 2009 Copenhagen Marathon winner Toyokazu Yoshimura and his parents.

Toyokazu Yoshimura and Chihiro Tanaka scored a double Japanese victory at the 2009 Copenhagen Marathon. Having grown from just under 3000 to nearly 11000 in the last three years, this year's Copenhagen Marathon featured invited elites for the first time.

Danish Crown Prince Frederick started off the field under ideal conditions. Yoshimura ran within a lead pack of four which included Jonah Kemboi (Kenya), Luigi La Bella (Italy) and debutant Matthew Janes (Wales) along with pacemaker Neilson Hall (U.K.). La Bella was the first to drop off as Yoshimura began to press Hall after 9 km. Soon Janes and then Kemboi likewise fell behind. Behind them Tanaka ran a lonely race far ahead of the next woman, accompanied only by a guide cyclist and right on her goal 2:35 pace.

Chihiro Tanaka goes it alone.

Yoshimura and Hall hit halfway in bang on 1:08, slightly ahead of the target pace. After Hall dropped out at 25 km Yoshimura ran the rest of the way alone, the clouds growing heavier and rain beginning to fall as he approached 30 km. La Bella returned to pick off Janes and then a fading Kemboi just after 30 km and began to work on cutting down Yoshimura's 45 second lead.

As the rain worsened it took a toll on all competitors. Yoshimura began to experience muscle spasms in his right leg. La Bella slipped on the wet surface rounding a corner and fell. Tanaka's arms began to shake uncontrollably. Accelerating at 40 km, Yoshimura held off La Bella's comeback from his fall, running 2:18:04 to win by 58 seconds over the bloodied Italian. Although they missed the race record, the pair became the first men to break 2:20 on the current Copenhagen course. The race was Yoshimura's second marathon outside Japan and second win after having taken the 2007 Gold Coast Marathon.

Yoshimura at the line.

Tanaka struggled in the cold over the final kilometeres and finished in only 2:41:00, beating Dane Anne-Sofie Pade Hansen by three and a half minutes. Tanaka's only previous race in Europe having been a 2nd place finish at the 2007 Athens Classic Marathon, she was more than happy with the win despite the weak time. 800 m and 1000 m world record holder Wilson Kipketer (Denmark) was on hand to present the awards to both winners.

2009 Copenhagen Marathon - Top Finishers
Click division headers for complete men's and women's results.

Men
1. Toyokazu Yoshimura (Japan) - 2:18:04 - CR
2. Luigi La Bella (Italy) - 2:19:02 - (CR)
3. Jonah Kemboi (Kenya) - 2:21:40

Women
1. Chihiro Tanaka (Japan) - 2:41:00
2. Anne-Sofie Pade Hansen (Denmark) - 2:44:30
3. Lene Hjelmsø (Denmark) - 2:56:04

Click here for an article on the Copenhagen Marathon by race sponsor Politiken Newspaper.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

2 comments:

Roberto said...

"Although they missed the race record, the pair became the first men to break 2:20 on the current Copenhagen course."

As a former AIMS-certified marathon race director, it makes me laugh when race organizers change the course and keep the course record.

Brett Larner said...

She was actually very nice and laughed a lot, but whenever a camera was out she seemed to slip into that expression. I have about 1000 pictures from the trip and have only found one where she's smiling.