Skip to main content

Fukuoka Marathon Post-Race Comments

translated and edited by Brett Larner
source articles at bottom of page

Joseph Gitau (24, Team JFE Steel) won the Dec. 2 Fukuoka International Marathon in a superb 2:06:58 with a hard surge after 33 km.  "Before the race I hadn't even thought about the possibility of winning," Gitau told the media.  "My marathons before this had both turned out badly.  I just went into this thinking that it was time to give it another try."  Gitau made his marathon debut in Fukuoka in 2009 but dropped out partway.  He finished his second marathon in Hokkaido two years ago but ran only 2:21:54.  A graduate of Hiroshima's Sera H.S., where he made an impact on the ekiden circuit, Gitau is a product of Japan's corporate team system.  In fluent Japanese he said, "I'm accustomed to the environment in Japan and that has made it easier for me to run."  Four-time Fukuoka winner Toshihiko Seko commented, "Gitau has bests of only 13:43, 27:58 and 1:01:19.  There are many Japanese athletes with better times than these, and they are doing the same training Gitau is.  He should be an inspiration to them to reach for the 2:06 level."

Top Japanese finisher Hiroyuki Horibata (26, Team Asahi Kasei) finished 2nd in 2:08:24, just short of the sub-2:08 requirement for a guaranteed place on the 2013 World Championships team but a PB by over a minute.  For the first 30 km he stuck behind the pacers.  "I wasn't thinking about anything, just trying to stay in the background of the scene," Horibata said.  As the best marathoner on Japan's most storied marathon team, Asahi Kasei, Horibata was in particular targeting the independent Arata Fujiwara (31, Miki House) and "Civil Servant Runner" Yuki Kawauchi (25, Saitama Pref.).  "Those guys are unique, but I knew how to deal with them.  I thought the best way to go was just to hide out for a while and then go for the time."  Despite not feeling well, just before 32 km he told himself, "Let's go!" and broke the race open with a powerful surge, living up to a pre-race promise to surprise everyone with an unexpected move.  "I did what I said I was going to do," he said.  "My confidence is back."

A favorite for the London Olympics team after finishing 7th at last year's Daegu World Championships, the 189 cm-tall Horibata had a disappointing run at April's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  In April he developed Achilles tendon problems in his right leg, keeping him out of serious training until the fall.  He was still able to succeed in Fukuoka, he said, "because I got in a lot of high-quality training for ekiden season."  His success served notice that with a traditional base of high-volume training, the corporate ekiden season training menu still plays an important role in sharpening speed.  A sub-2:08 time remains a goal.  "It's not completely fixed yet," Horibata said, "but [in the spring] I might race overseas to go for a faster time."  His goal if he is named to the World Championships team: "Top five."

Horibata's coach, 2:08:55 marathoner and newly-appointed Federation director of men's marathoning Takeshi Soh, was disappointed that Horibata's surge was not enough for the win.  "If you get into a good flow you can just cruise along without wasting energy.  He looked like he was going to be able to do that today, but then his expression suddenly changed.  I thought he was still going to make 2:07, but when he came through the gate onto the track all I could think was, 'Ah, man, so close.'  Still, though, the positive thing here is that he got where he did by taking control of the race.  His body and his running are both huge.  If he improves his efficiency he's capable of running a Japanese national record.  We have to stay conscious of time and not waste him."

London Olympian Fujiwara finished 4th despite a very short training cycle and sudden calf problems late in the race, breaking 2:10 for the fifth time in his career.  "This race was a challenge to myself to test my character or my courage," Fujiwara told reporters.  "It shows that if I trained more seriously there is no reason I couldn't go two or three minutes faster.  The calf problem was just something local and it doesn't give me any reason for doubt."  Targeting the Tokyo Marathon, where he ran 2:07:48 this year, Fujiwara said, "I want to go for a fast time."

Another of the Japanese favorites in the race, "Civil Servant Runner" Kawauchi lost touch with the lead pack at 28 km.  "All of a sudden I started having trouble following the pace, and then it got hard to stay optimistic.  I just started to slip away," he said.  "To put it simply, I wasn't strong enough."  Aiming to clear the 2:07:59 time requirement for the 2013 World Championships team, he missed breaking 2:10 and ended up as the 4th Japanese man, 6th overall in 2:10:29.  "I'm thinking about adding workouts with club teams and universities, maybe some corporate teams, to my training," he revealed.

The former world record holder known as "The Emperor" ended his bid for a second Fukuoka crown in rout, dropping out of the race.  Apparently running well in the lead pack, after rounding the turnaround point after 31 km Haile Gebrselassie (39, Ethiopia) suddenly stopped.  He later explained that he began experiencing pain in his left leg after 25 km.  "I couldn't lift my leg any more," he said unhappily post-race.  "At first I was feeling good so I thought I would just take it easy and run relaxed, but...."  Two years ago Gebrselassie announced his retirement following another DNF at the 2010 ING New York City Marathon before reversing his decision.  He is now age 39.  Despite the harshness of the reality facing him, Gebrselassie remained optimistic about the future, saying, "I still want to compete."

Another pre-race favorite for the win despite Fukuoka being his debut, 2007 Osaka World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (26, Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) also dropped out.  In his case Mathathi lasted until the 38 km point.  "The muscles in both my thighs were completely exhausted," he said with dejection.  "Forget about the marathon.  I'm giving up on it."  Mathathi can take consolation in the fact that winner Gitau also dropped out of his marathon debut in Fukuoka.

Comments

Matt said…
Thanks for the post race update Brett. Just curious, has Kawauchi mentioned a target time for the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon following his Fukuoka performance???
Brett Larner said…
I haven't heard anything, no. I don't imagine he'll go for a particularly fast time, just whatever it takes to win. If Ito is in shape then that could be 2:11-2:12ish.

Most-Read This Week

Norway's Moen Blasts 2:05:48 European Record to Win Fukuoka

More than living up to the promise of his 59:48 Norwegian half marathon record at October's Valencia Half, Sondre Nordtad Moen took down all comers to win the 2017 Fukuoka International Marathon in a European record 2:05:48.

【福岡国際マラソン】

🏆優 勝 モーエン 2:05.48! pic.twitter.com/lpzMUYHfhu — NOBUKI T&F (@nobu_777__tf) December 3, 2017
Superb pacing work took the lead group through 30 km with almost perfect 3:00/km splits along the way, a race of attrition that shaved down the field to a core group of five real contenders. Defending champ Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) was the first big name to go, with 2:06 man Lani Rutto (Kenya), the debuting Keita Shitara (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) and last year's 3rd-placer Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) among the other big names to lose touch in the first half, leaving Moen, favorite Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA), London Olympics gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), last year's 5th-placer Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) and Boston Maratho…

Morita Goes Sub-32 in 10000 m Debut

Running her track 10000 m debut of a 32:27 road 10 km in the spring, Kaori Morita (Panasonic) closed hard off a slow opening pace to win the National Corporate Federation Women's Long Distance Time Trials 10000 m Friday afternoon in Yamaguchi.

A new filler meet to take up space on the calendar following the National Corporate Women's Ekiden's move to November, the Corporate Time Trials meet featured one heat of 3000 m and three 5000 m heats before its main focus, the 10000 m. After a 3:19 first 1000 m Morita's teammate Yuka Hori, winner of the 10.9 km Third Stage at Nationals, took over, leading the field at 3:12 to 3:14 / km pace through 7000 m. Morita, who won the 7.0 km First Stage, went to the front at that point with a 3:14 to 8000 m before taking off.

Clocking her fastest split up to that point with a 3:07 between 8 and 9000 m, Morita closed impressively with a 3:01 final km to dip under 32 minutes as she won in 31:59.94. Steepler Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) w…

Saitama International Marathon Top Two's Times Annulled Due to Last-Minute Misdirection by Race Officials

At the Nov. 12 Saitama International Marathon, Kenyan Flomena Cheyech Daniel won a sprint finish over Bahraini Shitaye Habtegebrel by 3 seconds to take her second-straight Saitama title in 2:28:39. On Dec. 11 race organizers announced that both runners' times had been annulled.

In the midst of the pair's battle for the win, race officials misdirected the pair into the righthand lane on the final corner instead of the lefthand lane in which the finish line was located. Both ran over the curb dividing the two lanes and returned to the original course before finishing.

At the time JAAF executive director Mitsugi Ogata said, "This was a mistake by the organizers and the athletes did nothing wrong. There was no effect on the finishing order and no advantage gained in terms of the distance run." After later consultation with JAAF officials, race organizers decided that Cheyech and Habtegebrel had not covered the complete distance and that their times should be annulled. N…