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Konovalova Wins Nagoya Women's Marathon in 2:23:43, Westcott Over Kawauchi in Half

by Brett Larner

In a familiar sight on the Japanese women's marathon circuit, a late-30's Eastern European woman negative-splitted her way to the win of the world's largest women-only marathon, the Nagoya Women's Marathon.  39-year-old Russian Mariya Konovalova led virtually start to finish, more than often than not ahead of the lone Kenyan pacer as she progressively ground down the competition.  A lead pack of 21 at 10 km was down to 14 by halfway, which Konovalova crossed in 1:12:34.  Most of the burnoff happened between there and 25 km, with only defending champion and Moscow World Championships marathon 4th-placer Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu), 2005 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Jelena Prokopcuka (Lativa), debuting National Corporate Half Marathon champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei), the idiosyncratic Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto), Ethiopian Ashete Dido and the pacer able to match Konovalova's pace.

Kenyan Agnes Kiprop managed to regain contact with the leaders just in time for Konovalova to take off with the pacer's departure at 30 km.  Both Prokopcuka and Kiprop went with her, Dido dropping and the three Japanese women forming a chase pack.  Dido soon slipped back to provide a convenient target for Kizaki and crew, who duly pulled her back and said goodbye.  Up front Konovalova managed to get a gap on Prokopcuka, 10 seconds ahead by 40 km.  The gap only grew on the way to the finish as Konovalova crossed the line in 2:23:43, the fourth-best winning time in Nagoya's 29 runnings and second-best on the current course.  The 37-year-old Prokopcuka was next in 2:24:07, her best time since 2005.

With a place on the Japanese team for this year's Asian Games at stake Hayakawa, who has had an interesting career trajectory that saw her become the first Japanese woman to win the Honolulu Marathon way back in 2003 while running as a club runner before signing on with triathlon coach Mitsuhiro Yamamoto in 2012 and joining the small Toto corporate team as their ekiden ringer, tried to get away with a long surge.  Tanaka went with her and Kizaki, experiencing some trouble, initially dropped far behind.  Kiprop came and went before Kizaki got back in gear, going after Hayakawa and Tanaka with less than 4 km to go. At 40 km Hayakawa led them both by a second, but the experienced Kizaki returned and as she and Hayakawa began to battle for 3rd the first-timer Tanaka fell away.  Hayakawa tried again to get away, but despite her best efforts she fell victim to Kizaki's proven closing speed.  Kizaki kicked away in the last 200 m to take 3rd in 2:25:26, Hayakawa 5 seconds back in a PB 2:25:31.  Tanaka, coached by Tokyo World Championships silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita and a former training partner of Berlin World Championships silver medalist Yoshimi Ozaki, was safe for 5th in 2:26:05, putting her in the all-time Japanese debut top ten.

Kizaki taking top Japanese honors in the fastest Japanese time of the year to date makes her the leading contender for the Asian Games team.  With Yokohama International Women's Marathon top Japanese woman Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) running only 2:28:47 and the top Japanese woman at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) having announced her retirement, the most likely person to join Kizaki will be Sairi Maeda (Bukkyo Univ.), who set a collegiate national record 2:26:46 in Osaka to also make the all-time debut top ten.  Following her graduation this month Maeda is joining Kizaki on the Daihatsu corporate team, setting them both up perfectly to support each other in their Asian Games buildup and beyond.

In the mixed mass-participation half marathon that accompanies Nagoya, Australia's Scott Westcott, running as part of a cooperative relationship between Nagoya and the Sydney Marathon, battled with perpetual marathon machine Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) for the win, unexpectedly turning the amateur-level race into an elite event. Kawauchi, who ran 2:10:38 last weekend at Lake Biwa, led early before Westcott moved up to take over through the middle of the race.  Head to head at 20 km, Kawauchi went for a long surge in the last km but could not shake free of Westcott who kicked in the final stretch to take the win in 1:04:14 by three seconds.  Kawauchi will look to improve on that time on home ground at the Mar. 16 Saitama City Half Marathon.  "I can only say I am glad I am not racing him next weekend!" Westcott told JRN post-race.

2014 Nagoya Women's Marathon
Nagoya, Aichi, 3/9/14
click here for complete results

1. Mariya Konovalova (Russia) - 2:23:43
2. Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia) - 2:24:07
3. Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 2:25:26
4. Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto) - 2:25:31 - PB
5. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:26:05 - debut
6. Agnes Kiprop (Kenya) - 2:27:51
7. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 2:27:57 - PB
8. Asami Kato (Team Panasonic) - 2:29:08 - PB
9. Ashete Dido (Ethiopia) - 2:29:21
10. Agnes Barsosio (Kenya) - 2:30:37
11. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 2:30:48 - debut
12. Jessica Trengove (Australia) - 2:31:23
13. Helena Kirop (Kenya) - 2:31:34
14. Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) - 2:31:39 - debut
15. Chika Horie (Team Univ. Ent.) - 2:32:58
16. Hiroko Shoi (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 2:33:06 - PB
17. Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:33:13
18. Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Team Noritz) - 2:33:17 - PB
19. Kana Orino (Team Hokuren) - 2:33:51 - debut
20. Ayumi Sakaida (Team Daihatsu) - 2:34:12 - PB
21. Miranda Boonstra (Netherlands) - 2:34:41
22. Sayaka Kurogi (Team Kyudenko) - 2:35:48 - debut
23. Aki Odagiri (Team Tenmaya) - 2:35:52 - PB
24. Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:36:45 - debut
25. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Kyocera) - 2:36:51

2014 Nagoya City Half Marathon
Nagoya, Aichi, 3/9/14
complete results coming shortly

Men
1. Scott Westcott (Australia) - 1:04:14
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:04:17

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

photo (c) 2014 Scott Westcott
all rights reserved

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
One of the announcers noted that Konovalova runs 1000km (621mi) a month. Not so unusual for an elite, but she also does 1000m intervals - 25 at a time! And quick - I think he said 3:10-3:15/km.
Metts said…
In an article on Running Times, Yoshihisa Hosaka, claims to have done 5x1k in the morning and 5x1k in the evening so a total of 10x1k everyday, along with other running too. But that might have been just his marathon buildup before he set his age group record. But Brett might know more about his training these days.
Brett Larner said…
Thanks to Scott Westcott for his input on this story.
Anna Novick said…
Kawauchi has the best smile in that picture!
TokyoRacer said…
I'm pretty sure Hosaka does the same thing each day, every day. Do a search for Hosaka in this blog for the interview with him.

He just ran 3:07 in the LA Marathon, BTW. An off day.
Hi, I ran Nagoya Women's Marathon last week and wld love to see my race photos. Can't work out the Japanese website. Can u help? Race # 113

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