by Brett Larner
A developmental race in its 61st running, the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon lucked out with almost windless conditions conducive to fast times. The large lead pack ran consistently at just sub-2:09 pace through much of the race, whittling down to a final pack of eight at its ultimate stage. First-timers Yakob Jarso (Ethiopia), the former Ethiopian 3000 mSC national record holder, and Takehiro Arakawa (Team Asahi Kasei), famous for DNF'ing on the anchor stage of the Hakone Ekiden a few years ago with 2 km to go after breaking his foot in a rail crossing more than 10 km earlier, made the first serious move just past 30 km, very early for the inexperienced. 2011 Hokkaido Marathon winner Harun Njoroge (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) was quick to respond but took his time catching up, drawing the rest of the pack with him. Two-time Hofu Yomiuri Marathon champion Serod Batochir (Mongolia) and top-ranked Japanese man Yuki Moriwaki (Team JFE Steel) were close behind him, Batochir despite stopping and searching for his drink bottle in visible frustration a few km earlier.
The lead turned over frequently in the final few km as different runners took turns trying to break away, but ultimately it shook down to Njoroge, Jarso and Moriwaki in a leading trio. Moriwaki was the first to slip away, but the debuting Jarso was no match for Njoroge's experience either and could not keep up. Njoroge sailed off to win unchallenged in a PB of 2:09:38, his first time under 2:10. Moriwaki and Jarso both faded and were run down by the superb Batochir, who clocked another PB in 2:11:05 with Jarso not far behind in a strong debut of 2:11:13. Moriwaki looked safe for 4th but was caught by the unknown Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki), who ran a good debut of 2:11:18 to take the top Japanese position. Moriwaki held on to 5th, also breaking 2:12 with a mark of 2:11:51.
Aggressive first-time Arakawa faded to 10th, just outrun by Australian Jeff Hunt who ran a characteristic fast-closing race but could not reach his goal of an Olympic-qualifying sub-2:12 mark. Defending women's champion and women's course record holder Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu) won her second-straight year in 2:43:12.
2012 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
click here for complete results
1. Harun Njoroge (Kenya/Team Komori Corp.) - 2:09:38 - PB
2. Serod Batochir (Mongolia) - 2:11:05 - PB
3. Yakob Jarso (Ethiopia) - 2:11:13 - debut
4. Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:11:18 - debut
5. Yuki Moriwaki (Team JFE Steel) - 2:11:51 - PB
6. Desta Gebrehiwet (Ethiopia) - 2:12:22
7. Hiroki Kadota (Team Kanebo) - 2:12:25 - debut
8. Keisuke Wakui (Team Yakult) - 2:12:55 - PB
9. Jeff Hunt (Australia) - 2:13:19
10. Takehiro Arakawa (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:13:39 - debut
1. Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:43:12
2. Naomi Ochiai (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:55:18
3. Naoyo Utsunomiya (Beppu Marathon Club) - 2:56:37
(c) 2012 Brett Larner
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