by Brett Larner
Three weeks after an unsuccessful run at the TCS New York City Marathon and a week after the third-fastest half marathon of his career, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returned to his favorite distance at the 24th Fukuchiyama Marathon in Kyoto. Cancelled last year in the wake of a typhoon, Fukuchiyama was rewarded for its invite of Kawauchi as he took nearly nine minutes off the course record with a solo 2:12:59 win. Opening with an ambitious 14:56 split for the first 5 km, 2:06 marathon pace, Kawauchi was immediately on his own, and despite progressively slowing for the rest of the way he opened over 14 minutes on 2nd place and held on well enough to just meet his pre-race goal of a 2:12 finish. Post-race he deadpanned, "I'm majorly rewriting the course records at marathons across Japan to promote my "Japanese Archipelago Domestic Remodelling Project." Click here for video of Kawauchi's finish.
Kawauchi's time also beat the new course record set at the weekend's largest marathon, the Kobe Marathon, at 17213 finishers nearly twice the size of Fukuchiyama. In Kobe, Kenyan Harun Malel took four minutes off his PB to win in a new CR of 2:13:45. Like Kawauchi's a mostly solo effort, Malel beat runner-up Yuya Takayanagi (Team Sysmex) by over six minutes. The women's race was much closer, with Hiromi Saito (Team Kyocera) beating Riona Ishimoto (Team Noritz) by just three seconds for the win in 2:38:23. Course record holder and defending champion Chihiro Tanaka (Athlec AC) outkicked Kenyan Mildred Kimanyi for 3rd by nine seconds in 2:41:15.
Ishimoto's teammate Kana Unno (Team Noritz) had better luck at the 27th Ohtawara Marathon, winning the women's race in 2:43:53. Former national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), a local to the Ohtawara area, won the women's 10 km in 34:27. On the men's side, Shingo Igarashi (Team Subaru) won in 2:16:18 with teammate Hayato Kono winning the 10 km in a modest 31:33. 52-year-old Mike Trees (Great Britain) ran a solid 32:49.
Earlier in the week another Kyocera athlete, Asami Furuse, outran another British runner, Charlotte Purdue, to take the win in 1:12:01 at the 33rd Sanyo Ladies Road Race half marathon in Okayama. Traditionally a year-ending highlight, Sanyo was moved five weeks earlier this year due to the planned opening of a major new shopping center in central Okayama in mid-December. American Mattie Suver was 4th in 1:14:50 behind Shoko Mori (Team Otsuka Seiyaku). In the 10 km, Kenyans Grace Kimanzi (Team Starts) and Felista Wanjugu (Team Univ. Ent.) went 1-2 with ease, Kimanzi taking the win in 32:05. 2011 Tokyo Marathon winner Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) was far back in 3rd in 33:23.
Overseas, Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu) took silver at the 100 km World Championships in Doha, Qatar in 7:38:23, leading three Japanese women into the top ten to also pick up the team silver medal. The Japanese men also scored team silver on the strength of 4th and 5th-place finishes by Hideo Nojo and Yoshiki Takada. In Europe, members of the Meijo University women's ekiden team once again ran in the Zevenheuvelenloop 15 km road race, Yomogi Akasaka leading the way with a 6th-place finish in 50:44.
(c) 2014 Brett Larner
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