Skip to main content

Russian Mayorova Wins Largest-Ever Women-Only Marathon, Ozaki Takes Top Japanese Spot in Nagoya

by Brett Larner

Transformed on the one-year anniversary of the Tohoku disasters from the small, elite-only format to the world's largest women-only marathon with 15,000 runners running a new course with an indoor finish unique in Japan, the Nagoya Women's Marathon marked the end of the Japanese Olympic team selection cycle.  Russian veteran Albina Mayorova ran a massive negative split of over two minutes to effortlessly blow by Japan's best in the final part of the race and take the win in 2:23:52, nearly two minutes better than her 8 1/2 year-old PB.  Tumbling in the turbulence behind her, 2009 World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) outkicked her 2011 World Championships teammate Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) to take the top Japanese spot, 2nd overall in 2:24:14, and put herself into the circle of contenders for the London team.  Nakazato was 3rd in 2:24:28, a PB by one second and good enough to give her a chance of joining Ozaki in London.  Past national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) was a surprise and elated 4th in 2:25:02, her best performance in over three years and one which makes her the first Japanese woman to break 2:27 eight times, while current national record holder and Athens Olympics gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) was an emotional 6th in 2:25:33, her first marathon in over four years and the fifth-best time of her career.

While the lead pack of Japanese Olympic hopefuls set off at 2:23-flat pace, splitting exactly 1:11:30 at halfway, Mayorova and Ukrainian Olena Shurkhno ran a more conservative 1:13:00 first half.  Both Mayorova and Shurkhno then turned it on, picking up the pace and catching stragglers from the lead pack one by one.  The 34-year-old Mayorova, consistently at the 2:28-2:31 level since 2005 with a 2:25:35 best from the 2003 Chicago Marathon, split a stunning 1:10:52 for the second half, while Shurkhno managed a more modest 1:12:49 second half to take nearly three minutes off her best from last year's downhill Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon.  Both clocked 7:20 for the final 2.195 km, the fastest in the field, to join other Eastern European women from the same athlete management firm, including the runner-up at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (Ukraine), 2011 Chicago Marathon winner Liliya Shobukhova (Russia) and 2011 Tokyo Marathon first and third placers Tatiana Aryasova (Russia) and Tatiana Petrova (Russia), in a remarkably consistent pattern of success over the last year: a negative split with the fastest last 2.195 km in the race, the kind of closing splits more commonly run by men.  Combined with this race strategy, this group's seemingly innovative training methods make for a nearly unbeatable combination.  Amazing.

In the race for the Japanese Olympic team, early casualties of the 2:23-flat pace included defending Nagoya champion Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) and Akane Wakita (Team Toyota Jidoshokki), both out of the lead pack after only 5 km.  Kano's teammate Yoshiko Fujinaga (Team Shiseido) was next, then Mari Tanigawa Half-Marathon winner Kaori Yoshida (Amino Vital AC).  At 17 km Noguchi, looking heavy and jerky in her return to the distance, was also off the pack.  Just past 20 km, favorite Kaoru Nagao (Team Univ. Ent.), the top Japanese woman at February's Marugame International Half Marathon, had a very hard fall at a water station.  Unable to get back up for a long time, she finally pushed herself back to her feet and started to run again, staggering and crying and eventually finishing 30th in 2:38:02.  The lead pack of seven, Nakazato, Ozaki, Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei), Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), Shibui and Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) along with pacer Rene Kalmer (South Africa) went through halfway in 1:11:30.

With Kalmer's departure at 23 km the pace immediately slowed, 3:21 for her final km followed by a 3:26 and a 3:30.  At 25 km Noguchi was over 20 seconds back, but as the pack ahead of her turned tactical she began to accelerate, regaining contact at 29 km and taking the lead at 30 km, with a 1:42:31 split as the entire nation gasped and held its breath.  Miyauchi was the first victim of Noguchi's push to get the race back on track.  Sensing danger, Ozaki responded just past 32 km with a long, hard surge to drop Akaba, then Shibui, then her teammate Katsumata, and finally Noguchi.  Only Nakazato and Ito were left, but by 34 km Akaba had returned to the lead pack, which was now made up of four of the five members of Japan's Daegu World Championships marathon team.

Just past 35 km, looking fresh and strong Mayorova blew by the lead quartet of Japanese women, all but one of whom held faster PBs than her 2003 best.  Akaba, who suffered a knee injury in February training, fell away as the other three Japanese women picked it up to tail the Russian.  At 36 km Ozaki made a move to retake the lead, while Ito lost contact.  At km 37 km Mayorova threw down the hammer again to sail off to the win in Nagoya Dome.  Ozaki and Nakazato repeatedly traded the front position as they battled over the final 5 km, and not until the last 600 m did Ozaki make the move to put Nakazato away.  Shibui overtook Ito for 4th, looking overjoyed as she crossed the line, while a tearful Noguchi came through seven seconds back in 2:25:33, two seconds better than her debut marathon time.  Although Noguchi failed in her bid to return to the Olympics, she can take pride in having never given up on her dream over the years and in finally seeing it through even when she knew she was at less than 100%.  Prior to today only one woman, Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) had ever beaten Noguchi in a marathon, and Noguchi can take additional pride in the fact that she was almost ten minutes faster than Ndereba in Nagoya after long years out of the game.

The Japanese Olympic marathon team lineup will be announced at a press conference at 3:30 p.m. on Mar. 12.  With her Nagoya performance Ozaki joins Osaka winner Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) as probable placeholders on the team.  In post-race interviews Ozaki said that while she had run slower than planned, she was happy to have been the top Japanese woman and get into Olympic contention.  The third Olympian will come from among Akaba, Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), Osaka 3rd-placer Azusa Nojiri (Team Daihatsu) and Nakazato.  Kizaki's win over Ozaki in Yokohama gives her an edge despite her relatively slow winning time.  For her part, Noguchi said that although she missed her goal of making London she was very happy with how she had run considering the condition she was in, and she looks forward to building toward her next goal, a clear statement that this was not the end of her road.

2012 Nagoya Women's Marathon Top Results
Nagoya, 3/11/2012

1. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:23:52 - PB
2. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:24:14
3. Remi Nakazato (Team Daihatsu) - 2:24:28 - PB
4. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:25:02
5. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:25:26 - PB
6. Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) - 2:25:33
7. Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) - 2:25:49 - PB
8. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 2:26:08
9. Yoko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:26:23 - PB
10. Misaki Katsumata (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:28:01 - PB
11. Eri Hayakawa (Amino Vital AC) - 2:28:19
12. Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:28:44
13. Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) - 2:29:20 - PB
14. Jessica Tengrove (Australia) - 2:31:02 - debut
15. Korei Omata (Team Sekisui Kagaku) - 2:31:13 - debut
-----
19. Lidia Simon (Romania) - 2:33:41
22. Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) - 2:35:08

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Men's Marathon Rout - JAAF Executives Announce Resignation

http://www.nikkansports.com/olympic/rio2016/athletics/news/1698472.html

translated by Brett Larner

In the Rio de Janeiro Olympics men's marathon on Aug. 21, Satoru Sasaki (30) was the top Japanese man at 16th in 2:13:57.  Suehiro Ishikawa (36) was 36th, with Hisanori Kitajima (31) placing 94th.

At the end of athletics competition Japan's total was two medals and two top eight finishes, a total exceeding the JAAF's target one medal but falling short of its goal of five top eight finishes.  JAAF strengthening committee chairman Kazunori Asaba (55) announced that he intends to resign his position following the Rio Olympics.  Strengthening committee vice-chairman Katsumi Sakai (56) and director of men's marathoning Takeshi Soh (63) are also expected to join the exodus of resignations.  Japanese athletics will be forced to make a fresh start before the Tokyo Olympics.

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In P…

Kawauchi Leaves for Oslo After Trying 100 m Time Trial

The civil servant runner admits to being shocked. 2017 London World Championships marathoner and men's captain Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) left from Tokyo's Narita Airport for Norway the evening of Sept. 13 to run the Sept. 16 BMW Oslo Marathon.

On Sept. 9 at the National University Track and Field Championships, Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) became the first Japanese man to break 10 seconds in the 100 m when he set a new national record of 9.98. The news has been the talk of the nation ever since. Kawauchi said, "It's pretty amazing. It took up the front page of every newspaper." What can he run for 100 m? "My PB is 13.1, but right now, 13.9," he admitted.

Kawauchi ran that time, "in the morning the day before yesterday," he said. "I did two time trials. I even wore spikes. I ran them for real and only did 13.9. To be honest, it was pretty shocking." Although short sprints are well outside his area of expertise it seemed…