by Brett Larner
Despite windy conditions, times were fast across the board at the 27th Yaizu Minato Half Marathon in Shizuoka prefecture, a race deep in university competition. The top three men cracked the fourteen-year-old course record of 1:03:54, two of them in the university division including winner Yusuke Ota (Nittai Univ.) who set a new overall CR of 1:03:42, Meiji University's winning team set a record for the combined times of the top two runners from the school in Yaizu's unique National University Pair Marathon Championships division, and just a week after a loss in a 10-miler against Toyo University ace Yuta Shitara, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) came up 2nd overall again with a new general division course record of 1:03:48.
Kawauchi's participation was unannounced, and when he appeared on the start line a murmur among the university runners quickly grew into an ovation from the mass runners as word spread. Ota, Kawauchi and eventual 3rd-placer Tomoyasu Matsui (Meiji Univ.) set off together from the gun, already with a gap over the rest of the field by 3 km. The trio pushed each throughout the race, with Ota surging to pull away in the final kilometers and Kawauchi outkicking Matsui by two seconds. All three broke the course record, but the entire field was also quick as nineteen men broke 66 minutes, the most ever at Yaizu.
The top three finishers in each division received a supply of locally-caught skipjack tuna, with Meiji's duo of Matsui and Ryo Ishima receiving an entire maguro tuna as a bonus for the Pair Marathon Championships course record. In post-race podium comments Kawauchi said, "This was a flat, fast course and I was happy to run here. I'll be back next year." Asked about what comes next he replied, "I'll be aiming to run a fast time in Dusseldorf at the end of the month." Before that, he will pace his younger brother's marathon debut at next week's Kasumigaura Marathon in Ibaraki prefecture.
27th Yaizu Minato Half Marathon
Yaizu, Shizuoka, 4/8/12
click here for complete results
1. Yusuke Ota (Nittai Univ.) - 1:03:42 - CR
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 1:03:48 (CR)
3. Tomoyasu Matsui (Meiji Univ.) - 1:03:52 (CR)
4. Ryo Ishima (Meiji Univ.) - 1:04:05
5. Naoki Inoue (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:11
6. Shunsuke Yuji (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:04:15
7. Norihiko Matsuda (Hosei Univ.) - 1:04:25
8. Soji Takahashi (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:25
9. Yuichi Okutani (Takushoku Univ.) - 1:04:46
10. Ko Takagi (Meiji Univ.) - 1:04:52
1. Natsuki Kato (Honda RC) - 1:20:34
Pair Marathon Championships
1. Meiji Univ. - 2:07:57 - CR
2. Aoyama Gakuin Univ. - 2:08:36
3. Komazawa Univ. - 2:09:54
text and photos (c) 2012 Brett Larner
all rights reserved