by Brett Larner
2012 Sendai International Half Marathon winner Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) returned to the top at this year's race, outrunning last year's winner Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) and all Japanese competition for a second Sendai title. Mogusu took the race out hard, leading Maina through 5 km before losing touch. From there it was a one-man show as Maina soloed his way to the win in 1:01:43. 2013 Nobeoka Nishi Nihon Marathon winner Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda), the lone Japanese man to go in pursuit of the two Kenyans, ran down Mogusu for 2nd in 1:02:40, a PB by nearly 45 seconds.
Mogusu barely held on to 3rd in 1:03:19, with Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) in close pursuit on the final lap of the track. Kawauchi, running just a week after his 2:09:36 season best at the Hamburg Marathon, did his best to catch Mogusu but came up just short in 1:03:23 for 4th, the fastest of his eight half marathons so far this year. Newly Japan-based Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Team NTN), Kawauchi's main foreign competition for gold at this fall's Asian Games marathon, was nine seconds behind Kawauchi in 1:03:32, an apparent new Mongolian national record.
2013's fastest Japanese marathoner Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) ran a lukewarm 1:04:19 for 8th, with his 2012 equivalent Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) far back in the pack in 1:05:42 in his first race experimenting with high-mileage training. Mogusu, Kawauchi, Bat-Ochir and Fujiwara will all line up again next weekend at the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon where they will face top trio Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea), Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA RC).
In the women's race, the young Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) made a successful debut at the half-marathon, taking the win in 1:11:27. Okada ran a solidly even race, head-to-head with Sachi Tanaka (Sports Yamagata 21 AC) on low-1:11 pace at 10 km before getting away for the win. Tanaka held on for 2nd in a PB of 1:11:50 far ahead of 3rd-placer Misato Horie (Team Noritz). Having just turned 20, Okada looks to have plenty of room to improve in coming seasons.
24th Sendai International Half Marathon
Sendai, Miyagi, 5/11/14
click here for complete results
1. Johana Maina (Kenya/Team Fujitsu) 1:01:43
2. Hiroaki Sano (Team Honda) - 1:02:40 - PB
3. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:03:19
4. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 1:03:23
5. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) - 1:03:32 - NR
6. Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:03:34
7. Shota Inoue (Team Toyota) - 1:03:52
8. Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) - 1:04:19
9. Yudai Yamakawa (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:04:26
10. Takuya Noguchi (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:04:32
1. Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:11:27 - debut
2. Sachi Tanaka (Sports Yamagata 21 AC) - 1:11:50 - PB
3. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:13:21
4. Miya Nishio (Team Hokuren) - 1:14:58
5. Aiko Sakata (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 1:15:17
6. Yuri Kano (Team Shiseido) - 1:16:16
7. Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 1:16:51
8. Kana Unno (Team Noritz) - 1:17:57
9. Ema Harada (Team Nihon ChemiCon) - 1:18:11
10. Eri Suzuki (Noshiro Yamamoto T&F Assoc.) - 1:18:20
(c) 2014 Brett Larner
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