translated and edited by Brett Larner
Stretching from Osaka City Hall to the south part of Osaka Bay, 27,000 runners took part in Kansai's first mass-participation marathon, the Oct. 30 Osaka Marathon. With a surge at 30 km Elijah Sang (Kenya) became the race's first champion, winning in 2:12:43. In post-race comments Sang told the media, "I think this will be a very fast course. The cheering was incredibly loud, so I never got tired or had to back off. Things went as planned and I made a move at 30 km. I was able to win because I was running for the win."
Veteran Lidia Simon (Romania) won the women's race in 2:32:48. "The course is an easy one without any difficult sections," she said, "but I had trouble maintaining my speed after the turnaround. I wasn't able to hit my target of a sub-2:30 time, but I did manage to achieve my other goal of winning. My next goal will be to run in London for my fifth Olympic Games." Hokkaido Marathon course record holder Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) was 2nd in 2:33:36, while local heroine Yuri Yoshizumi (Osaka Nagai AC) came through with a two-minute PB for 3rd in 2:40:31.
The top Japanese man in the race, 4th in 2:14:31, was the popular Yuki Kawauchi, who was once again wheeled away to receive emergency medical treatment after crossing the finish line. At the post-race press conference Kawauchi commented, "My time was what I was planned, but when the foreign runners sped up at 35 km I slowed down. I drew strength from all the cheers along the course, and especially out in the bay area near the end where there weren't many people I got a boost when people yelled, 'Go Kawauchi!'"
Kawauchi ran Osaka less than two months after September's World Championships marathon in Daegu, Korea, but with regard to the short period of time between his two races he said, "I can't train a lot for one specific race like corporate runners. If I don't race a lot my level will go down." Kawauchi plans to run next month's Ageo City Half Marathon to sharpen his speed for the first domestic selection race for the Olympic team, December's Fukuoka International Marathon. "Regardless of how things go in Fukuoka," he said, "I'm going to run the Tokyo Marathon as well."
Along with all 27,000 runners on the roads, the cheers from countless roadside supporters as well as the hard work of the the race staff and volunteers combined to help make the first Osaka Marathon an event where Osaka truly become one.
Translator's note: 3rd-place Salim Kipsang (Kenya) won the 2009 Tokyo Marathon. 4th-place Kawauchi's time was the 3rd-best of his career. 2009 Copenhagen Marathon winner Toyokazu Yoshimura (Hyogo Pref.) returned from a year and a half of injury to finish 6th, while notorious 2009 Tokyo Marathon wig runner Nobuaki Takata (Hirakata Masters AC) was 7th.
2011 Osaka Marathon
click here for complete results
1. Elijah Sang (Kenya) - 2:12:43
2. Aleksey A. Sokolov (Russia) - 2:13:15
3. Salim Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:14:18
4. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 2:14:31
5. Kenji Onaka (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:14:36 - PB
6. Toyokazu Yoshimura (Hyogo Pref.) - 2:21:10
7. Nobuaki Takata (Hirakata Masters AC) - 2:22:28
1. Lidia Simon (Romania) - 2:32:48
2. Kiyoko Shimahara (Second Wind AC) - 2:33:36
3. Yuri Yoshizumi (Osaka Nagai AC) - 2:40:31 - PB