translated and edited by Brett Larner
Having missed out on the London Olympics team, Yuki Kawauchi (25, Saitama Pref.) marked the first win among his twelve marathon starts to date at the Apr. 15 Kasumigaura Marathon, Japan's third-largest marathon returning after post-disaster cancellation last year.
Kawauchi ran as a pacer for his younger brother Koki Kawauchi (19, Takasaki Keizai Univ.), but after 23 km he left his brother behind and ran on his own to the finish, closing with an impressive 6:09 split for the final 2.195 km. Because the brothers went into the race planning to run around 2:25, even with this closing speed Kawauchi's winning time of 2:22:38 was a personal worst, but his wide margin of victory over 2nd place still showed that he was in a different class from the other runners.
"I didn't plan to win today, so I guess I was just lucky," Kawauchi said after the race. He won Kasumigaura's 10-mile division two years ago and other races last year including July's Kushiro Shitsugen 30 km and October's Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Half Marathon, but this was his first win over 42.195 km even if it was unintentional. "I'm happy to look at this as my first marathon win. It was good practice," he said.
His brother Koki finished 7th in 2:28:36. "I wanted to break 2:27," Koki told reporters, "but at least I was faster than Hiroshi Neko's best time (2:30:26)." Yuki will race the April 29 Dusseldorf Marathon in his European debut. Yukie Tamura (42, Kasai Runners AC) won the women's race in Kasumigaura in 2:49:00.
Update: Dr. Helmut Winter sent me this list of the top ten fastest known final 2.195 km splits. Kawauchi's 6:09 is the all-time 2nd fastest behind only Geoffrey Mutai's 6:05 from Eindhoven '09, knocking former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie out of the top ten. The circumstances were a bit different, but.....
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