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Kiplagat and Njui Win Hot and Humid Sapporo International Half Marathon

by Brett Larner

With organizers sticking by the 1:30 p.m. start time they introduced last year and temperatures in the high 20's with humidity around 80% there was little chance of fast times at this year's Sapporo International Half Marathon despite excellent fields on both the men's and women's sides. 2010 World Half Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) led wire-to-wire to win the women's race in 1:10:29, with defending champion Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) holding off course record holder Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Aidem) to pick up his third Sapporo title in 1:01:47.

Kiplagat's win was a virtual forgone conclusion, but she had company through the first half of the race from Japan-based Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) in Chepyego's first half marathon. The pair went through the downhill first 5 km in 15:55 and 10 km in 32:54 before Kiplagat picked things up to put Chepyego away. Kiplagat indicated after the race that she plans to run this year's Berlin Marathon as a step toward the London Olympics. Chepyego took the runner-up spot in 1:12:03, a good debut considering the conditions, but was nearly run down by another first-timer, 5000 m national champion Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno). The 21-year-old Kinukawa, who has been tearing up the track this season after returning from 3 years of injury, ran a highly controlled effort in her debut, sitting well back in the third pack deep into the second half of the race before turning it on and overtaking Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei), Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) and nearly Chepyego for 3rd in 1:12:22. Miyauchi, who ran solo in 3rd most of the race, ended up in 4th while Katsumata shuffled in to 5th. It was interesting to see that with very similar track bests last month, 15:09 and 31:10 for Kinukawa and 15:10 and 31:27 for Chepyego, their opposing race strategies in their half debuts resulted in almost identical times. In an entertaining post-race interview Kinukawa said that Sapporo was a test run to see how she handles longer distances as she prepares to follow through on her intention of running the marathon at the London Olympics next year.

In the men's race 2009 Sapporo winner Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) and 10000 m Japanese all-comers record holder Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) took the race out at sub-hour pace with a chase pack including defending champion Njui, course record holder Mogusu, and Japanese runner Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo) not far behind. Njui and Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) soon made contact with Mogusu on his own trying to close the gap. Kihara quickly faded away and was replaced by Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) as the top Japanese man in the midst of a second pack of Kenyans. Ngatuny and Wanjuki faded away before 10 km and were overtaken by Mogusu. Just before 15 km Njui surged to drop Ndambiri, who was quickly passed by Mogusu, and steadily widened his lead to take another Sapporo win. Mogusu was 2nd in 1:02:11 and Ndambiri 3rd in 1:02:37, Okamoto holding on to the top Japanese spot as he finished 6th in 1:03:03. Ngatuny fell out of the top ten, and likewise none of the three members of Japan's World Championships marathon squad running Sapporo made the top ten. Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) was the top Daegu marathoner, 17th in 1:05:02, with Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) 58th and his teammate Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama) 63rd after saying he has had trouble getting back to normal after overheating at the Okinoshima 50 km last month.

Surprisingly beating both Ngatuny and Nakamoto was Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon), 14th in 1:04:39 as he continues a long comeback from his DNS at the Beijing Olympics marathon. Osaki also beat his Beijing teammates, Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku), both of whom ran over 1:07. Kihara, Arata Fujiwara (Remo System AC), John Maina (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.) and invited athlete Andrew Lemoncello (U.K.) were among the many to drop out partway through the race.

2011 Sapporo International Half Marathon
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 7/3/11
Women
1. Florence Kiplagat (Kenya) - 1:10:29
2. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 1:12:03 - debut
3. Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno) - 1:12:22 - debut
4. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:12:55
5. Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 1:13:16
6. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:13:27
7. Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 1:13:31
8. Aki Odagiri (Meijo Univ.) - 1:13:34
9. Yuki Tanaka - 1:13:49
10. Sayo Nomura - 1:14:39

Men
1. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Cable) - 1:01:47
2. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Aidem) - 1:02:11
3. Josephat Ndambiri (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 1:02:37
4. James Mwangi (Kenya/Team NTN) - 1:02:52
5. Harun Njoroge (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 1:02:59
6. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:03:03
7. Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) - 1:03:35
8. Kiragu Njuguna (Kenya/Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) - 1:04:00
9. Nicholas Makau (Kenya/Team Yachiyo Kogyo) - 1:04:01
10. Koichi Sakai (Team Fujitsu) - 1:04:12
-----
14. Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 1:04:39
15. Gideon Ngatuny (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:04:51
17. Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 1:05:02
58. Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) - 1:06:57
63. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:07:12
73. Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:07:28
77. Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:07:40
DNF - Arata Fujiwara (Remo System)
DNF - Masato Kihara (Team Kanebo)
DNF - Andrew Lemoncello (U.K.)
DNF - John Maina (Kenya/Takushoku Univ.)

(c) 2011 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Franfri said…
Thank you very much for the information. I love your site.

Regards from Spain.
Brett Larner said…
At your service, Franfri.
Sergio_CR said…
Thank you very much for the information. I love your site. (2)

Regards from Brazil.

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