Skip to main content

ING New York City Marathon - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Former Hakone Ekiden uphill specialist Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) had the best results of the day among the three Japanese athletes at the 2013 ING New York City Marathon, running a steady pace to advance to 6th in 2:10:45, the best-ever performance by a Japanese man in New York.  The Koichi Morishita-coached Imai and, appearing with support from JRN, independent Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) stayed in the midst of the men's lead pack running into the wind throughout the first half of the race. When defending champion and eventual winner Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) led a move at 22 km both Imai and Kawauchi fell off the group along with past New York champions Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) and Martin Lel (Kenya) and 2013 New York City Half Marathon runner-up Daniele Meucci (Italy).

Imai showed characteristic uphill strength heading onto the Queensboro Bridge just before 25 km, remaining within 10 seconds of the lead group after the turn onto 1st Avenue.  Keflezighi and Lel soon vanished from contention, leaving Kawauchi and Meucci together for the next 15 km.  As stragglers began to come back following the carnage of New York's characteristic First Avenue surge Imai held onto a steady pace, picking up places one by one and coming just shy of overtaking 2:05 man Stanley Biwott (Kenya) for 5th.  His final 6th place finish in 2:10:45 was one step up from the top Japanese showings in Berlin, where Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) was 7th in 2:10:24, and Chicago, where Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) was 7th in 2:10:29, particularly given that unlike Ishikawa and Sano he ran in the unpaced lead pack rather than a carefully-controlled second pack.

Kawauchi was unable to bring his characteristic strong finish and lost touch with Meucci at 40 km nearing the exit from Central Park.  Down to 12th place, he overtook defending Olympic and World Championships gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) at Columbus Circle with less than 1 km to go to move up to 11th in 2:12:29.  "Passing the Olympic and World champion was the only outcome I can really take any satisfaction from today," Kawauchi told JRN post-race.  "I beat Keflezighi, but I wanted to race him when he was strong so it doesn't really count.  I thought that even in a worst-case scenario I would make the top ten, so it's very disappointing that I couldn't stay with Meucci and ended up 11th.  If I had been able to run a race like Imai did, steady after 25 km and moving up late in the race, it would have been a much better result."

"But, this was my first time racing in the U.S. and in a race of this level.  The field here was stronger than either of the World Championships I've run in and I placed better here than I did in either Daegu or Moscow, so it wasn't all bad.  And I did better than Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) did in 2010." [laughs]

"I learned a lot too.  Before the race Keflezighi told me that he has done marathon-distance training runs in 2:25 at 4000 m elevation, so he said he doesn't think my approach of using marathons as training is strange.  Coming from an Olympic medalist that's very encouraging.  During the race I was keying off Kiprotich and watching Mutai and Tsegaye Kebede.  Mutai spent a lot of time going to the front and dropping back over and over.  I think if he had focused on running more steadily he would have had a better result.  I have more respect for the way Kebede ran, biding his time and not wasting his energy before making his move, even if he didn't win.  But I learned a lot from watching both of them."

"With this behind me I think I could do a lot better next year if they wanted me back.  I really liked the focus on racing without pacers. It's much better than the kind of heavily-controlled time trials we have in Japan. The atmosphere was amazing too. The screaming crowds put Tokyo to shame."

In the women's race, London Olympian Risa Shigetomo (Team Tenmaya) equalled Kawauchi's 11th place finish in 2:31:54.  Running in the lackadaisical second pack far behind early leaders Buzunesh Deba and Tigist Tufa Demisse of Ethiopia, Shigetomo lasted until the Queensboro Bridge when she fell behind on the long uphill.  She ran on solo from there to the finish.

2013 ING New York City Marathon
New York, 11/3/13
click here for complete results

Men
1. Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) - 2:08:24
2. Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) - 2:09:16
3. Lusapho April (South Africa) - 2:09:45
4. Julius Arile (Kenya) - 2:10:03 - PB
5. Stanley Biwott (Kenya) - 2:10:41
6. Masato Imai (Japan/Team Toyota Kyushu) - 2:10:45
7. Jackson Kiprop (Uganda) - 2:10:56
8. Peter Kirui (Kenya) - 2:11:23
9. Wesley Korir (Kenya) - 2:11:34
10. Daniele Meucci (Italy) - 2:12:03 - PB
11. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref.) - 2:12:29
12. Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda) - 2:13:05

Women
1. Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya) - 2:25:07
2. Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia) - 2:25:56
3. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:27:47
4. Christelle Daunay (France) - 2:28:14
5. Valeria Straneo (Italy) - 2:28:22
6. Kim Smith (New Zealand) - 2:28:49
7. Sabrina Mockenhaupt (Germany) - 2:29:10
8. Tigist Tufa Demisse (Ethiopia) - 2:29:24 - PB
9. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:30:04
10. Diane Nukuri-Johnson (Burundi) - 2:30:09 - PB
11. Risa Shigetomo (Japan/Team Tenmaya) - 2:31:54
12. Lisa Stublic (Croatia) - 2:34:49

text and photo (c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
Disappointing but not unexpected that the clueless race announcers did not even notice Imai finishing in 6th, just behind Biwott. And of course they did not realize that he had been the one shadowing the lead pack, in 11th, then falling further back, then fighting back to 6th, It was the gutsiest performance of the race, but went entirely unnoticed and unmentioned.
It's bad enough that ESPN or whoever don't want to use announcers who actually know the runners, but can't they have someone on hand who does? Someone to pass them notes saying, "Mention what a great race so-and-so is running." "Mention how Kawauchi, who is very popular and was featured in a NY Times story, is doing." Wishful thinking, I suppose.
Brett Larner said…
I keep thinking I should start documenting instances of the "Invisible Japanese" phenomenon as it's a fairly interesting variety of subtle racism and pervasive in American coverage whenever Japanese athletes run. This time throughout much of the time that Imai was running alone in 10th ESPN's on-screen leaderboard said Meucci, who was far behind running against Kawauchi in 12th, was in 10th instead of Imai.

Another favorite was this year's NYC Half when Kenta Murayama was the one to lead the breakaway after 5 km that got the race moving. The race broadcaster said in a voiceover of footage of Murayama leading by a large margin with Barrios of Mexico 10 m or so behind and a larger gap to the pack, "And here's Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico leading the breakaway." To their credit the NYRR eventually edited that part out of the highlights video.

Cf. also Flotrack's universal tendency to say every leading athlete's name except the Japanese, who are designated "one of our Japanese athletes."
Brett Larner said…
Kawauchi was up at 5 this morning to run 18 km in Central Park before leaving for the airport at 7:15 a.m. A direct flight to Tokyo arriving around 2:30 p.m., then straight to work. He usually works around 12:30 to 9:30 p.m. and only took a half day off so he will get to work at about 5 p.m. and work the second half of the day.

Most-Read This Week

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a …

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

Ekiden season is in full swing, and across the country it was another busy weekend. Although there were four major ekidens nationwide, the best action came as runners from high school to the pros tuned up for the string of national championship ekiden races stretching from the end of this month to mid-January. At Kanagawa's Nittai University Time Trials meet, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) pipped 5000 m junior world championships bronze medalist William Malel (Honda) at the line in the 10000 m A-heat, winning in 27:22.73 to Malel's 27:22.79. Four other Kenyans including Ndiku's junior teammate Richard Kimunyan broke 28 minutes as their coaches eye who to run at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden.



Evans Yego of the tiny Sunbelx supermarket team won the more conservative 5000 m A-heat in 13:48.04, a race most notable for high schoolers Luka Musembi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), Masato Suzuki (Suijo H.S.) and Reito Hanzawa (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…