Skip to main content

Kizaki Silver in Asian Games Marathon

by Brett Larner



The Incheon Asian Games women's marathon played out almost to script, with the four fastest women in its field finishing almost perfectly in PB order.  After a very slow first 5 km of 18:49, 2:38:48 pace, Kenyan-born Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa (Bahrain), the #1-ranked woman in the race, began a series of small surges to cover the next 5 km in 17:27 and open a gap over a chase pack of eight led by her teammate, #4-ranked Ethiopian-born Lishan Dula Gemechu (Bahrain), and #2-ranked Japanese favorite Ryoko Kizaki, the 4th-place finisher in last year's Moscow World Championships marathon.

From there Kirwa simply exploded, covering the distance from 10 to 15 km in 16:28, 2:18:58 pace, with Kizaki and Gemechu close behind.  As Kirwa relaxed slightly Kizaki picked it up to get into contact, leaving Gemechu to run the rest of the race alone.  Once Kizaki was next to Kirwa they stayed side-by-side virtually until 37 km, their splits constant and hovering around 17 minutes flat per 5 km the entire way, just barely faster than Kizaki's 2:23:34 PB pace and not exactly an easy cruise for Kirwa.

At 32 km Kirwa began to throw in surges on corners, but Kizaki stayed calm and focused and each time closed the gap without wasting her strength.  Near 37 km, however, Kirwa put in a decisive move that opened a few meters on Kizaki, who for the first time began to look strained.  After a drink station Kizaki began to push to try to get back into contact, but at 40 km she was down 22 seconds on Kirwa.

Summoning up her strong kick Kizaki closed 9 seconds in the final 2.195 km but could not challenge for the gold as Kirwa crossed the finish line in 2:25:37, Kizaki claiming silver in 2:25:50.  Considering that their first 5 km was 1:45 slower than they ran the rest of the race the leading pair's times were more impressive than they looked, Kirwa running 2:23:50 pace from 5 km to the finish and Kizaki 2:24:04.  Props to Kizaki for bringing her A-game even if it wasn't enough to beat Kirwa and pick up the guaranteed place on the Japanese 2015 World Championships marathon team available to a gold medalist in Incheon. 

Back in the field, Japan's other contender, #3-ranked Eri Hayakawa, was among the first serious competitors to drop off the chase pack.  As the pack fragmented she began to pick up other athletes, forming third group with Seongeun Kim (South Korea), Chao Yue (China) and Yinli He (China) as, farther ahead, North Korean twins Hye-Gyong and Hye-Song Kim worked together to overtake the flagging Gemechu.  Then, nearing 30 km, the marathon happened.

The Kim twins split up, and even as Hye-Gyong began to lose ground on Gemechu Hye-Song fell further back and was overtaken by Yue, then Hayakawa, then He, and finally by the South Korean Kim.  Next it was Hye-Gyong's turn to be run down.  By 35 km Gemechu had slowed almost to a walk, Yue almost a minute faster between 30 and 35, and despite recovering Gemechu was still slower over the next 5 km to 40.  Hayakawa was not out of it, though, throwing it down hard after 40 km to close with the fastest final 2.195 km outside of medalists Kizaki and Kirwa.

Gemechu came onto the track for a final lap with Hayakawa just 50 m back and Yue right behind her.  Hayakawa bore down to catch her, and it looked set to be a thrilling final 100 m sprint finish.  But the biggest excitement, what this race will be remembered for, was still to come.  At the end of the back straight, the exhausted Gemechu abruptly stopped, for whatever reason thinking it was the finish line.  Two seconds later Hayakawa flew by in full stride.  Gemechu watched her go by in puzzlement without reacting until Yue was next to her.  Realizing her mistake she exploded into a sprint.

She immediately dropped Yue and got even with Hayakawa coming into the straight.  Gemechu opened a few meters, and although Hayakawa dug even deeper and closed on her again it proved enough for Gemechu to take bronze in 2:33:13, Hayakawa a step and a second behind in 2:33:14.  Although there had been no markings to indicate that where she stopped was the finish line Gemechu was furious with race officials after she finished, but in post-race interviews Hayakawa laughed about the whole thing and shook her head.  Chalk it up to experience.

2014 Asian Games Women's Marathon
Incheon, South Korea, 10/2/14
click here for complete results

1. Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:25:37
2. Ryoko Kizaki (Japan) - 2:25:50
3. Lishan Dula Gemechu (Bahrain) - 2:33:13
4. Eri Hayakawa (Japan) - 2:33:14
5. Chao Yue (China) - 2:33:20
6. Yinli He (China) - 2:33:46
7. Hye-Gyong Kim (North Korea) - 2:36:38
8. Seongeun Kim (South Korea) - 2:38:16
9. Hye-Song Kim (North Korea) - 2:38:55
10. Iuliia Andreeva (Kyrgyzstan) - 2:39:25

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Hokkaido's Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. Builds 330 m Greenhouse Indoor Track

Targeting its sixth-straight win at the Oct. 23 Hokkaido Prefecture High School Girls Ekiden, Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. has complete construction of the Asahikawa Ryukoku Indoor Track, at 330 m in length the nation's largest running-specific circuit course entirelyely enclosed in vinyl greenhouse material. The ceremony marking the track's official completion is scheduled for Oct. 28th. In a part of the country known for heavy snowfall, the hope is that Asahikawa Ryukoku's new year-round training ground will help it make the jump to becoming a factor at the national level. The indoor track was built on the 1650 square meter campus of the former Asahikawa Toei H.S., where Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. will relocate next summer. Coated in durable vinyl, the massive white torus of the track stands out from its surroundings. Ranging from 5.4 m to 7.2 m in width, the track's housing is wide enough to accommodate four lanes. In the future, two lanes will be covered with artificial turf

Kanazawa Marathon to Stop Runners at 21 Locations Due to Election

Due to be held the same day as voting in the upcoming election for the House of Representatives, runners at the Kanazawa Marathon can expect to be stopped at over 20 intersections on the course in order to allow voters on their way to the polls to pass without interference.  Scheduled to be held Oct. 31 after last year's race was canceled, the Kanazawa Marathon will take place while voting polls for the House of Representatives election are open. On race day, road closures for the marathon will be in place for up to 6 hours, but the locations of 14 polling stations on the course mean that voters will need to be able to cross through intersections. 50,000 voters are expected to use these locations, and while city officials are calling for people to utilize early voting or polling stations not affected by road closures then have made the decision to place security personnel at 21 intersections to stop runners when necessary. The Kanazawa Marathon already has this policy in place at

February's Ome 30 km Road Race Canceled Due to Pandemic

On Oct. 14 the organizers of Tokyo's Ome 30 km Road Race announced that the popular event's 55th running, scheduled for Feb. 20, 2022, will not go ahead and will instead be postponed a year. Organizers said that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic they had concerns about being able to stage the event in a way safe for runners, local residents, race staff and volunteers. The Ome 30 km's 55th running was originally scheduled for February, 2021 but was postponed to 2022, meaning the new decision will in effect be a two-year postponement.  The Ome 30 km Road Race was founded in 1967. Starting in the western Tokyo suburb of Ome, the race follows a mountainous route along the upper Tama River gorge and back. Featuring both 30 km and 10 km races, the race seen wins from Olympic gold medalists like Naoko Takahashi  and Mizuki Noguchi , and is one of Japan's most popular races for amateur runners, with over 12,000 finishers every year. In place of the 2022 event, organizers