Skip to main content

Kawauchi Leads Weekend Road Results With Solo Saga Sakura Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

As is his tendency, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) led the way on a busy weekend that saw Japanese athletes in at least four competitive overseas races. Running the second edition of the Saga Sakura Marathon in scenic southwesternmost Kyushu despite having changed his workplace this week, Kawauchi took almost nine minutes off the course record and beat last year's winner Tomonori Onitsuka (Team Kyudenko) by more than ten minutes in 2:13:02 CR, his third marathon of the year and second soloing a massive CR in an amateur-level race.  "I haven't been feeling well since the Incheon Half last week and have just been jogging 60 minutes a day, so I'm glad I could at least run passably," he told JRN post-race. "If there hadn't been a strong headwind between 25 and 35 km I would have been a minute faster." Like Onitsuka, women's course record holder Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) was knocked back to 2nd as 20-year-old Hua Yang (China) took the win in 2:38:23.

While Kawauchi raced in a far corner of home, three other elite Japanese men ran overseas marathons.  2013 Ohtawara Marathon winner Tadashi Suzuki (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and runner-up Yasuaki Kojima (Team Subaru) ran the Paris Marathon as part of a relationship between the two races, Kojima three minutes off his best in 2:18:46 for 12th and getting screen time as the subject of some racial commentary by Britsh Eurosport announcers Martin Gillingham and Geoff Wightman, and 2:16 man Suzuki sightseeing his way to a 26th-place finish in 2:28:26. Ohtawara's 2nd and 3rd-place women Yumi Sato (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and Ayano Kondo (Team Noritz) also lined up in Paris, Kondo running a five-minute PB of 2:43:54 and Sato jogging a 2:55:42.  Directly across the channel, Tomoyuki Morita (Team Kanebo), all-time #4 on the Japanese debut lists with a 2:09:12 best at Lake Biwa in 2012, failed to make any impression at the Brighton Marathon, the first elite to fall out of the lead pack and shuffling home in 2:22:03 for 7th.

Aspiring indy Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) was not much better at the Prague Half Marathon, almost seven minutes off her best as she ran 1:17:19 for 13th place. On the other side of the Atlantic, 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) had what might have been the best Japanese women's run of the weekend on the roads, making her ten mile debut at Washington D.C.'s Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run in 55:21 as a tuneup for the Boston Marathon two weeks from now.

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Metts said…
Regarding Kawauchi and the Incheon half marathon, it was very warm on that day. I saw him in 6th or 7th place on the way back and he didn't look good.

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…