Skip to main content

Imai Wins Second-Straight Shibetsu Half

by Brett Larner

Continuing a solid 2014 that saw him break 2:10 for the first time at February's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, course record holder Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) returned to successfully defend his title at Sunday's Shibetsu Half Marathon.  Running in sunny and humid conditions with temperatures around 30 degrees, Imai had no trouble dropping main competition Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) and 5000 m and 30 km national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) late in the race to take the win in 1:04:07, 43 seconds off his record last year but still the 4th-fastest winning time in Shibetsu's 28-year history.  Ogura, only 14th in 1:05:56 last year, held off Matsumiya for 2nd in 1:04:21, the veteran Matsumiya ten seconds back.  Japan-based since April, 2014 Incheon Asian Games marathon medal contender Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) was 6th in 1:04:57.

The women's field was split between the half marathon and 10 km divisions.  A regular in the 10 km in Shibetsu, Misato Horie (Team Noritz) moved up to the event's half this year with a win in 1:14:37.  13 seconds back, Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) outkicked Horie's teammate Kikuyo Tsuzaki by 1 second for 2nd in 1:14:50.  Team Daihatsu runners dominated the 10 km with three of the top five places, Mizuki Matsuda getting the win in 33:50.

More important than the relatively slow times was the focus on running in heat and humidity.  As part of its mission, the new marathon National Team program, of which Imai is part, records detailed physiological data on athletes' performances in heat in an attempt to identify those most likely to perform well in the conditions they will face in summer international championships marathons leading up to the big one, Tokyo 2020.   Summertime Tokyo can have extreme humidity and temps in the 30s, and if last year's Moscow World Championships, where the mid-afternoon start times brought the worst conditions for the competitors, prime-time broadcasts in Japan for major IAAF sponsor TBS, a medal in the women's marathon and nearly another in the men's, are any indication there will be no mercy for the rest of the world weather-wise at the Tokyo Olympics.  Don't act surprised if it's another sauna.  Until then Japan's best will be trained and studied to maximize every advantage to bring a medal on home soil.  Everyone else has six years to figure out how to cope.

28th Shibetsu Half Marathon and 10 km
Shibetsu, Hokkaido, 7/20/14

Men's Half Marathon
1. Masato Imai (Team Toyota Kyushu) - 1:04:07
2. Yusuke Ogura (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 1:04:21
3. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) - 1:04:31
4. Takuji Morimoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:04:55
5. Yuma Morii (Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 1:04:56
6. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/Team NTN) - 1:04:57
7. Ryosuke Fukuyama (Team Honda) - 1:05:22
8. Kohei Ogino (Team Fujitsu) - 1:05:26
9. Yu Chiba (Team Honda) - 1:05:37
10. Shoya Kurokawa (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:05:41

Women's Half Marathon
1. Misato Horie (Team Noritz) - 1:14:37
2. Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:14:50
3. Kikuyo Tsuzaki (Team Noritz) - 1:14:51
4. Ai Migita (Team Wacoal) - 1:14:58
5. Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) - 1:16:26

Women's 10 km
1. Mizuki Matsuda (Team Daihatsu) - 33:50
2. Ayumi Sakaida (Team Daihatsu) - 34:04
3. Kotomi Takayama (Team Sysmex) - 34:14
4. Ayaka Inoue (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 34:28
5. Sayaka Murakami (Team Daihatsu) - 34:31

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

Late-Bloomer Hiroko Yoshitomi Dropping One Course Record After Another

There’s a woman in her 30s who has been breaking marathon course records left and right. A native of Saga, her name is Hiroko Yoshitomi (34, Memolead). In the last year she has broken course records at three domestic marathons including a 2:33:57 at March’s Saga Sakura Marathon. “In terms of my age, I’ve still got years left to be breaking records,” Yoshitomi says. “If you approach your running in terms of that kind of thinking then it’s totally natural that the times are going to come.” At one point she had thought about retiring this season, but for now she’s determined to push on.

Tokyo-based running Industry conglomerate Rbies recently launched the Marathon Challenge Cup (MCC) series, a grouping of 33 domestic marathons across the country. In the 2017 season 19 of those member races saw a total of 23 new course records. The only person to set multiple new course records was Yoshitomi. Along with these records, at December’s Honolulu Marathon, February’s Tokyo Marathon and April’s…