by Brett Larner
Daegu World Championships marathon 5th-place finisher Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) ran an aggressive race Dec. 23 at the 30th Sanyo Women's Road Race half marathon, winning in a 1:09:16 record for the hilly course over a tough field including marathon national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex).
Akaba, Noguchi, 2010's top female Japanese half marathoner Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera), last year's Sanyo 10 km division winner Kenyan Sally Chepyego (Team Kyudenko), and Akaba's Daegu teammate Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) took the race out at course record pace. The pack ran the early stages fast enough that Noguchi, running as a test for her comeback at next month's Osaka International Women's Marathon, lost touch after only 7 km. The lead four hit 10 km in 32:45, on track for a 1:09:06 finish, before Akaba surged away to mid-68 pace and built a lead that was never cracked. Fading in the last 5 km, she nevertheless held on to take the course record by 4 seconds. "I ran this for practice, so I'm pretty happy to get the record," she said afterward.
The remaining three in the chase pack took turns trying to run Akaba down, and all three were rewarded with new PBs for their efforts. Miyauchi, last year's runner-up, eventually shook Chepyego and Ito off, nearly catching Akaba and missing the old course record by only 3 seconds as she took 2nd again in 1:09:23. Chepyego also cracked 70 minutes, with Ito just missing by 3 seconds. Noguchi did not appear to be in distress or pain after losing touch with the leaders, running steadily on to finish in 1:10:48 in her first half marathon since the spring of 2008. What that bodes for her Osaka match race against half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) for an Olympic team spot remains to be seen, but Noguchi's result was good enough to show that her comeback is continuing to move forward.
In the Kinue Hitomi Cup 10 km, Kenyans Ann Karindi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) and Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) went 1-2 against Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) and Sayo Nomura (Meijo Univ.), with Karindi pulling away for the win in 32:47. Karindi's former teammate and pre-race favorite Hitomi Niiya (Sakura AC) was a late scratch.
2011 Sanyo Women's Road Race
click here for complete results
Yuko Arimori Cup Half Marathon
1. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 1:09:16 - CR
2. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 1:09:23 - PB
3. Sally Chepyego (Kenya/Team Kyudenko) - 1:09:58 - PB
4. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:10:03 - PB
5. Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 1:10:48
6. Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) - 1:11:40
7. Naoko Sakamoto (Team Tenmaya) - 1:12:01
8. Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) - 1:12:19
9. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:12:34
10. Chieko Kido (Canon AC Kyushu) - 1:12:51
Kinue Hitomi Cup 10 km
1. Ann Karindi (Kenya/Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 32:47
2. Grace Kimanzi (Kenya/Team Starts) - 32:56
3. Rei Ohara (Team Tenmaya) - 33:04
4. Sayo Nomura (Meijo Univ.) - 33:06
5. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 33:21
6. Rina Yonetsu (Meijo Univ.) - 33:22
7. Machiko Iwakawa (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 33:27
8. Haruka Igarashi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 33:28
9. Yoko Aizu (Team Shikoku Denryoku) - 33:30
10. Erika Ikeda (Meijo Univ.) - 33:36
(c) 2011 Brett Larner
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