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Gokaya and Watanabe Win 2013 Hokkaido Marathon

by Brett Larner

With Japan's premier summer marathon bringing back its elite field this year, corporate league runners Koji Gokaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) and Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) scored their first marathon wins, taking the men's and women's Hokkaido Marathon titles in 2:14:26 and 2:29:13 on Aug. 25 in Sapporo.

Following an early break by Shingo Igarashi (Team Subaru) and by 2010 Nobeoka Marathon winner Masaki Shimoju (Team Konica Minolta), Gokaya, who finished 7th at the 2011 Chicago Marathon in 2:12:15, ran in a dense lead pack through 35 km before turning it on, grinding down Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) to open a margin of 19 seconds before crossing the finish line.  Tsuji, the only runner to try to stay with Gokaya, was a comfortable 2nd in 2:14:45, 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack led by Shimoju, who held off past Gold Coast Marathon winner Dickson Marwa (Tanzania) in the last sprint for 3rd in 2:15:15.  Early leader Igarashi faded over the second half to a 2:18:22 finish in 14th after splitting 1:06:18 at halfway.  Men's 59+ world record holder Yoshihisa Hosaka (Natural Foods AC), now age 64, ran a strong 2:49:08 ahead of a bid for the age 64 record at October's Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Watanabe, left off the Moscow World Championships marathon team despite a good run at the Osaka International Women's Marathon in January, ran against 2013 Gold Coast Marathon winner Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and 2013 Berlin Half Marathon 3rd-placer Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) until 25 km before moving ahead, slowing after a 1:13:30 first half but still scoring a rare sub-2:30 time in Hokkaido thanks in part to solid pacing support from two-time Olympic marathon medalist Erick Wainaina (Kenya/Lights AC).  Akaba, seemingly putting a training run effort, was 2nd in 2:32:10 with Ito within hailing range in 2:32:54 for 3rd. Defending champion Yuri Yoshizumi (Osaka Nagai AC) took more than a minute off her winning time from last year but could do no better than 5th in 2:37:56.  Following a sadly familiar pattern, London Olympian Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya), 2:23:23 a year and a half ago in Osaka, ran only 2:51:55.

2013 Hokkaido Marathon
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/25/13
click here for complete results

1. Koji Gokaya (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:14:26
2. Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:14:45
3. Masaki Shimoju (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:15:15
4. Dickson Marwa (Tanzania) - 2:15:17
5. Akinori Iida (Team Honda) - 2:15:20
6. Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko) - 2:15:22
7. Satoshi Yoshii (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:15:50
8. Yu Chiba (Team Honda) - 2:16:17
9. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:16:31
10. Kiyokatsu Hasegawa (Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:16:42
Yoshihisa Hosaka (Natural Foods AC) - 2:49:08
DNF - Gezahegne Abera (Ethiopia)

1. Yuko Watanabe (Team Edion) - 2:29:13
2. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) - 2:32:10
3. Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:32:54
4. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:37:01
5. Yuri Yoshizumi (Osaka Nagai AC) - 2:37:56
6. Yuka Yano (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:41:40
7. Aki Otagiri - 2:41:49
8. Seika Iwamura (Team Higo Ginko) - 2:45:52
9. Saki Tabata (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:46:20
10. Akane Wakita - 2:48:20
11. Haruna Kira - 2:48:39
12. Tsegay Abebech (Ethiopia) - 2:50:10
13. Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) - 2:51:55
DNF - Gebregessese Roman (Ethiopia)

(c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


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