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24-Year-Old Sano Wins Nobeoka in Marathon Debut

by Brett Larner

Screencap by @Nakajima_LA. Click to enlarge.  Many more screencaps on Nakajima's feed and on the Nobeoka Facebook page.

For the third weekend in a row Japanese audiences were treated to a great marathon broadcast as 24-year-old Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) made a superlative debut Feb. 10 at the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon in Miyazaki, outkicking 2009 Ome 30 km winner and fellow debutant Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) over the final kilometer to win in 2:12:14, the 4th-fastest winning time in Nobeoka's 51-year history.

Perfect weather and outstanding mid-2:11 pacing by Ryo Kiname (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) kept a large pack together near course record pace until Kiname's departure at 25 km.  Although the pace began to slip, the numbers up front thinned over the next 5 km before a surge at 30 km by full-time-working Sho Matsumoto (Dream AC) dramatically culled the numbers.  Three first-timers, Sano, Kurosaki and Kazuaki Shimizu (Team Yakult), and 2:13 man Etsu Miyata (Team Fujitsu) went with Matsumoto with a smaller pack a few seconds behind.

Sano and Kurosaki began to trade surges, eliminating Matsumoto and Miyata, but the remaining trio soon got company from another first-time marathoner, Tatsunari Hirayama (Team Yasukawa Denki). Sano and Kurosaki continued to trade the lead, but a decisive move from Sano with 1 km to go put him out front for good and he crossed the line 8 seconds ahead of Kurosaki.  Hirayama and Shimizu also broke 2:13, making four 2:12 debuts in the top four to continue the great momentum generated by last weekend's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.  Of note: Beppu-Oita top two Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref.) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) split 6:32 and 6:52 for the final 2.195 km in their duel.  Sano and Kurosaki went 6:31 and 6:40 in theirs.

Matsumoto held on for 5th in 2:13:38, a PB by more than 5 minutes.  A native of Miyazaki, Matsumoto attended a minor running university and ran the Hakone Ekiden once on the Kanto Region Select Team.  Now 27, he lives in Saitama prefecture and works full-time at a company in Shinjuku.  Nobeoka was his fourth marathon in 3 1/2 months following a 2:19:26 PB at the Oct. 28 Oikawa Marathon, a 2:18:59 PB at the Dec. 2 Fukuoka International Marathon, and a training run-effort 2:21:58 two weeks ago at the Jan. 28 Katsuta Marathon. All of which sounds very familiar.  It looks as though Japan may have another self-training, full-time-working independent from Saitama on the rise.

51st Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon
Nobeoka, Miyazaki, 2/10/13
click here for complete results

1. Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) - 2:12:14 - debut
2. Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:12:22 - debut
3. Tatsunari Hirayama (Team Yasukawa Denki) - 2:12:38 - debut
4. Kazuaki Shimizu (Team Yakult) - 2:12:49 - debut
5. Sho Matsumoto (Dream AC) - 2:13:38 - PB
6. Etsu Miyata (Team Fujitsu) - 2:14:09
7. Yoshinori Sugimoto (Team Aichi Seiko) - 2:14:11 - debut
8. Keiji Akutsu (Team Subaru) - 2:14:46 - debut
9. Takuya Suzuki (Team Aisan Kogyo) - 2:16:17 - debut
10. Mitsutaka Imura (Komori Corp.) - 2:16:57 - debut
-----
12. Kazuya Deguchi (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:17:59 - debut
18. Yukihiro Kitaoka (Team NTN) - 2:19:50

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

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