by Brett Larner
Click image for a full-sized photo of Shibui at the SF finish line.
Just four weeks before the 2009 World Championships marathon, former national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) ran the July 26 San Francsico Marathon as part of her training. Having been injured throughout most of the spring and having run a personal worst 1:14:09 earlier this month at the Sapporo International Half Marathon, Shibui intended San Francisco to be nothing more than a practice run in the 2:45-2:55 range.
After starting out at sub-2:40 pace she settled down, going through halfway in 1:21:40. Her pace continued to slow throughout the second half of the race as she cruised to a perfunctory 2:46:34 win. Right on target, but her progressive slowing may have raised more questions than it answered about whether the Yoko Shibui who won January's Osaka International Women's Marathon can make a seemingly miraculous comeback in four weeks' time. A post-race press release from the San Francisco Marathon organizers quoted Shibui as saying, "This is a very hard course. It's the toughest course that I've ever run. It was much hillier than I expected, but overall it was a very good tune-up for me. I think if I was in top condition, like I will be in a month, I would have run with the lead man today." Shibui now returns to her training base in Flagstaff, Arizona for her final Berlin preparations.
Click here for complete results from the 2009 San Francisco Marathon.
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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