Skip to main content

Tanaka Wins Final Yokohama International Women's Marathon, 19-Year-Old Iwade 2:27:21 Debut

by Brett Larner

Two-time National Corporate Half Marathon champion Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) continued her transition to the marathon today, following up on her 2:26:05 debut for 5th in Nagoya in March with a 2:26:57 win over London Olympics gold medalist Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) and others at the final running of the short-lived Yokohama International Women's Marathon.

The race started close to target pace with a 16:56 opening 5 km split, but from there to 10 km the Kenyan pacer Purity Cherotich lost control, running 16:35, sub-2:20 pace, and dropping all but independent Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) and debuting 19-year-old Reia Iwade (Team Noritz).  With a 20-second lead over Tanaka and formerly Japan-based Kenyans Philes Ongori and Caroline Rotich both Nojiri and Iwade let go and coasted, returning to a more sensible pace with a 16:57 for the next 5 km.  Rotich soon closed the gap and went by the leading Japanese pair, Nojiri letting her go but Iwade throwing caution to the wind again and going with her.  Tanaka and Philes took their time regaining contact, catching up to form a pack of five after a slower 17:35 split took the leaders through 20 km.

Halfway came in a solid 1:11:56.  Nojiri, who won the Hokkaido Marathon in late August, began to fade despite the gradually slowing pace, 40 seconds behind by 25 km.  Little changed over the next 10 km until Rotich made a move at 35 km that dropped Iwade.  Side-by-side-by-side at 40 km, Rotich abruptly folded, vomiting and losing touch with Tanaka and Ongori.  Still together coming in to Yamashita Park for the finish, Tanaka opened a slight gap on Ongori that grew in the final straight to a 2-second margin of victory, 2:26:57 to 2:26:59.  Iwade ran down the stricken Rotich for 3rd, her 2:27:21 the fastest-ever by a Japanese teenager.  Olympic champion Gelana, appearing out of shape, was never a factor and finished a distant 6th in 2:29:13.

As the first selection race for the 2015 Beijing World Championships Japanese women's team Tanaka's win in Yokohama puts her name into the hat, but with a time far off the Federation's Beijing standard she is not likely to be picked if times in Osaka and Nagoya next year are several minutes faster.  Considering that the fastest time by a Japanese woman this year was only 2:25:26 that may not happen, but either way Tanaka's fate won't be decided for a few months to come.

In the meantime, following its eviction from Tokyo six years ago the Yokohama International Women's Marathon now moves northwest to Saitama.  The move may secure it the better budget it needed to achieve more than it did in Yokohama, but it also spells trouble for another long-standing elite race held the same day, the Ageo City Half Marathon in Ageo, Saitama, nearby the future Saitama International Women's Marathon's likely course.  With Saitama police among the strictest in the nation when it comes to road closure permits and the Saitama Prefectural Government signing on as co-sponsors of the relocating marathon, Ageo organizers are very concerned that the move will force them to change their traditional date, a major problem for its important role as a key pre-Hakone Ekiden prep event for university men.  How the move will play out remains to be seen.

6th Yokohama International Women's Marathon
Yokohama, Kanagawa, 11/16/14
click here for complete results

1. Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) - 2:26:57
2. Philes Ongori (Kenya) - 2:26:59
3. Reia Iwade (Team Noritz) - 2:27:21 - debut
4. Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 2:27:32
5. Azusa Nojiri (Hiratsuka Lease) - 2:28:54
6. Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia) - 2:29:13
7. Alina Prokopeva (Russia) - 2:29:18
8. Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine) - 2:29:26
9. Mayumi Fujita (Team Juhachi Ginko) - 2:34:13
10. Zivile Balciunaite (Lithuania) - 2:35:36
-----
DNF - Marisa Barros (Portugal)
DNF - Irvette Van Zyl (South Africa)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Anonymous said…
Great to see a Japanese winner and two young Japanese runners on the podium.

Most-Read This Week

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In P…

Ayuko Suzuki Leaves for Altitude Training in Boulder Motivated for the Marathon

2017 London World Championships 5000 m and 10000 m runner Ayuko Suzuki (25, Japan Post) left from Narita Airport on Sept. 18 for altitude training in Boulder, Colorado.

Two days earlier at a half marathon in Czech Republic, Yuta Shitara (25, Honda), like Suzuki born in 1991, broke the 10-year-old Japanese men's half marathon national record in a time of 1:00:17. "It's a big motivation to see an athlete the same age as me doing something like that," she said. Showing her determination to be one of her generation's leaders, she added, "I'll be 28 [at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics], right in my prime mentally and physically. I want to run big too."

In the leadup to the Tokyo Olympics Suzuki has the marathon in sight along with the track. "I need to run a half marathon and marathon somewhere once to check [how well they suit me]," she said. "Coach and I will be talking about it." If everything goes according to plan, December's Sanyo …

New Half Marathon NR Holder Yuta Shitara's Twin Brother Keita Joins Hitachi Butsuryu Corporate Team

Having left the Konica Minolta men's corporate team at the end of March this year, Keita Shitara, 25, announced on Sept. 19 that he will join the Hitachi Butsuryu team. The official announcement is scheduled for Sept. 20.

As a member of Toyo University Shitara was part of two Hakone Ekiden-winning teams before joining Konica Minolta following his graduation in 2014. His first year at Konica Minolta Shitara ran New Year Ekiden national championships' toughest stage, but since his second year he has experienced a slump. Saying, "I need to change my environment in order to get my head straight and back on track," Shitara chose to leave the team at the end of March, returning to Toyo as his training base.

The Hitachi Butsuryu team came into being in April, 2012 as the successor to the Hitachi Cable Marathon Team. It is based in Matsudo, Chiba. Under the leadership of head coach Manabu Kitaguchi, 45, it has grown steadily, placing 10th at this year's New Year Ekiden.…