by Brett Larner
In his fifth marathon to date this year, 2011 World Championships marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) added the second marathon win to his resume as he took the Aug. 26 Hokkaido Marathon in 2:18:38. Osaka-based amateur Yuri Yoshizumi (Osaka Nagai AC) came from behind to win the women's race in 2:39:06.
Long one of Japan's peak elite summer races, this year saw Hokkaido all but eliminate its elite field this year, and as a result 2:08:37 man Kawauchi's win was never in serious doubt. After a five-man lead pack went through halfway in 1:08:18, Kawauchi powered away to open a one-minute lead over his nearest competition. Although Kawauchi faded to a 1:10:20 second half in the rising temperatures, his competition faded more dramatically. Kawauchi's final margin of victory was more than three minutes over runner-up Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), who clocked 2:21:49.
In the women's race Yoshizumi started far behind sub-2:30 favorite Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren), but as Suzuki faded early in the second half Yoshizumi was there to take over, sailing on unchallenged to the finish. In an indication of Hokkaido's downgrading of its elite race, Kawauchi's winning time was the slowest in Hokkaido history since its first winner, Russian Fedor Ryzhov, ran 2:24:28 in 1987, while Yoshizumi's time was the slowest winning time since American Jane Welzel won the race's second edition in 2:40:53 in 1988.
The same day as Hokkaido, two-time Hokkaido winner Chihiro Tanaka (AthleC AC) opted to head south, easily winning the City-to-Surf Marathon in Perth, Australia in 2:41:14.
2012 Hokkaido Marathon
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/26/12
click here for complete results and splits
1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) - 2:18:38
2. Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:21:49
3. Takaya Sakamoto (Tokushima T&F Assoc.) - 2:24:24
4. Makoto Ozawa (Team Sekino Reform) - 2:24:37
5. Naoki Yamashita (Team NTN) - 2:25:14
1. Yuri Yoshizumi (Osaka Nagai AC) - 2:39:06
2. Misuzu Okamoto (Team Hokkoku Ginko) - 2:45:46
3. Sumiko Suzuki (Team Hokuren) - 2:47:32
4. Saki Tabata (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:50:14
5. Noriko Toshima (Hokkaido Marathon Club) - 2:59:28
(c) 2012 Brett Larner
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