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Estifanos Becomes First Eritrean Winner at Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

by Brett Larner

Tewelde Estifanos became the first Eritrean man in history to win the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, running up front throughout the race and dropping Japan's Hiroki Kadota (Team Kanebo) and Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Team Konica Minolta) late in the game to win in a 2:10:18 PB.  Erratic pacing made for an unsual race, with the two Kenyan pacers, tasked with running 3:02/km, doing opening splits of 3:11 and 3:10 before suddenly gunning it to try to hit the mandated 15:10 at 5 km.  Virtually every 5 km they did the same thing, surging a kilometer out from the timing mat to get closer to the desired split before relaxing again.

Some of the front group including Estifanos, Kadota, Yamamoto and defending champion Abraham Kiplimo (Uganda) went with them every time, but others including domestic favorites Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and Yusei Nakao (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) let go, taking their time in working back up to the lead group in time for the pacers' departure at 30 km.  Kadota was among those who fell off when Estifanos took the lead near 30 km, but with a quick surge he was back in it and, surprisingly, suddenly up to 2nd.  As the pack splintered he again lost touch, but another hard surge put him back up in 2nd just behind Estifanos and ahead of Yamamoto.

Estifanos began to moving away, Kadota initially following through a 2:53 km and leaving Yamamoto behind but soon losing ground.  There was never a dramatic break, Estifanos just got away from him over time to safely pick up the win, visibly disappointed at not breaking 2:10 but still having the satisfaction of a minute and a half improvement over his 2:11:47 PB from last fall.  Kadota looked like he would be overtaken by Yamamoto but kept pushing and was rewarded with 2nd as he ran 2:10:46 to go under 2:11 for the first time.  Yamamoto seemed to implode with about 3 km to go, his head lolling to one side and form slackening but still hanging on to 3rd in a PB of 2:11:48, well ahead of defending champ Kiplimo.

The women's race at Beppu-Oita, traditionally a men-only race, is still a small and recent addition. 2014 100 km World Championships silver medalist Chiyuki Mochizuki (Canon AC Kyushu), a three-time winner in Beppu-Oita, ran unchallenged by other women throughout the race to pick up a fourth title in 2:41:28.

For the men, Beppu-Oita was one of the four domestic selection races for the three-member 2015 Beijing World Championships marathon team.  As tough-assed as Kadota's run was, with a sub-2:06:30 standard for auto team selection and the top Japanese man at the first selection race, Fukuoka, having run 2:09:06, there isn't much chance he will be named to the team.  That team's roster will be determined after Tokyo at the end of this month and, a week later, Lake Biwa.

Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
Oita, 2/1/15
click here for complete results

Men
1. Tewelde Estifanos (Eritrea) - 2:10:18 - PB
2. Hiroki Kadota (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:10:46 - PB
3. Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:11:48 - PB
4. Abraham Kiplimo (Uganda) - 2:12:23
5. Satoshi Yoshii (Japan/Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:12:48
6. Naoki Okamoto (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:12:55
7. Taiga Ito (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:13:09
8. Yusei Nakao (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:13:23 - PB
9. Masahiro Kawaguchi (Japan/Yakult) - 2:13:27 - PB
10. Hiroki Tanaka (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:13:37
11. Ryoichi Matsuo (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:13:39
12. Junichi Tsubouchi (Japan/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:14:37 - PB
13. Yoshinori Oda (Japan/Toyota) - 2:15:52
14. Tomohiko Takenaka (Japan/NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:16:22
15. Yuko Matsumiya (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:16:34
-----
DNF - Fekadu Lema (Ethiopia)
DNF - Abdelmajid El Hissouf (Morocco)

Women
1. Chiyuki Mochizuki (Japan/Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:41:28
2. Aiko Kanematsu (Japan/Runup) - 2:53:31
3. Mika Okunaga (Japan/Yufuin Hammock AC) - 2:56:22

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
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