by Brett Larner
With strong winds and erratic pacing in the early going a shot at the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon's 2:08:16 course record and his goal of a 2:07 was never in the works, but in his 13th marathon of 2014 Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) scored the win in 2:09:46.
Kawauchi followed Kenyan pacer Charles Wanjohi through 5 km splits that varied from 15:07 to 15:34, well off the target pace of 3:02/km, accompanied by Ugandan Philip Kiplimo, Kenyans Willy Kibor and Cyrus Njui (Arata Project) and Japan's Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta). Nitta lost touch just before 25 km and 5 km later Njui did the same. Following the struggling Wanjohi's departure at 30 km Kawauchi ran with Kiplimo and Kibor before dropping things to 2:55/km at 33 km to open a lead that took him away to the win. Running 15:16 from 35 to 40 km, he faded slightly in the final 2.195 km to finish in 2:09:46, his second sub-2:10 of the year and just missing the year-best 2:09:36 he ran in May's Hamburg Marathon.
Despite coming up far short of his time goal, as his eighth career sub-2:10 Kawauchi's Hofu performance further solidified his position in the Japanese record books. The only Japanese man to break 2:10 twice this year, as the eleventh Japanese sub-2:10 of the year Kawauchi's performance also adds to the net positive current trend in Japanese men's marathoning. Kawauchi ends his year at the Dec. 31 Cursa dels Nassos 10 km in Barcelona.
Further back, Kawauchi's youngest brother Koki Kawauchi (Takasaki Keizai Univ.) finished 36th in 2:32:57. Fully blind runner Shinya Wada (Wakachan FRC) ran 2:35:39 for 48th, a new Japanese national record in his category.
In the women's race, course record holder and three-time winner Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) did it again, breaking her own record by 2 seconds for a fourth title in 2:37:55. Yoshimatsu went out on 2:36-flat pace determined to get the record but gradually faded, drawing closer and closer to 2:38 but pushing hard on the last lap of the track to just clip her old record.
45th Hofu Yomiuri Marathon
Hofu, Yamaguchi, 12/21/14
click here for complete results
1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:46
2. Philip Kiplimo (Uganda) - 2:13:24
3. Willy Kibor (Kenya) - 2:13:28
4. Norimasa Nishina (Team Fujitsu) - 2:13:47
5. Sho Matsumoto (Team Nikkei Business) - 2:17:29
6. Yuko Matsumiya (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:17:37
7. Jun Matsumoto (Team Aichi Seiko) - 2:20:04
8. Takeshi Tagen (Team Monteroza) - 2:20:40
9. Ryotaro Nitta (Team Konica Minolta) - 2:20:47
10. Yasutaka Monde (Team Ito) - 2:22:06
1. Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) - 2:37:55 - CR
2. Chika Tawara (Fukuoka T&F Assoc.) - 2:41:29
3. Sakiko Ishibashi (Dasewa) - 2:49:25
4. Miyuki Kaneko (AC Kita) - 2:51:20
5. Nana Higashi (Daiwa AC) - 2:52:16
(c) 2014 Brett Larner
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