Skip to main content

Kitajima and Hakoyama's Wins in Nobeoka Lead Weekend Marathon Results

by Brett Larner

With favorite Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) operating at less than 100% due to injury and illness last month and his rival Tomoya Adachi (Team Asahi Kasei) a late scratch after coming down with a bad fever just before the race Sunday's Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon was wide open for its 53rd running.  18 men including Kawauchi went through halfway in 1:04:57, on track for a shot at the 2:11:05 course record, before the field began to thin.  Born just three days apart and both making their marathon debuts at age 30, Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) and Norikazu Kato (Team Yakult) emerged to break away together, running side by side until nearly 35 km before Kitajima, braving 30 km/hr headwinds, broke free to take the win in 2:12:28.

Kato faded more than a minute off Kitajima's pace to take 2nd in 2:13:34, just holding off 23-year old Hiroki Yamagishi (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) who was another 20 seconds back in 3rd.  For the first time in its history Nobeoka also featured a women's race, Yuka Hakoyama (Team Wacoal) leading the field of 27 with a 2:39:34 win.

Kawauchi, on the mend from a bad ankle sprain in late December followed by a cold, said pre-race that he hoped to make top eight and followed through with an 8th-place finish in 2:15:16, tying Ethiopian great Abebe Mekonnen's world records of 34 career sub-2:16 marathons and 36 career sub-2:17s.  Kawauchi plans to break both records at next weekend's Kochi Ryoma Marathon.

Wind was also a major issue at one of the weekend's high-level marathons further up the Kyushu coast.  In its first edition last year the Kitakyushu Marathon saw winning times of 2:17 and 2:31.  Defending men's champion Shinji Tateishi (Fukuoka T&F Assoc.) led early, but with changing weather mid-race he rounded the 31 km turnaround to face a sustained headwind of over 40 km/hr and temperatures falling to near freezing over the entire final seaside 11 km.  Unable to fight the wind he fell to an 11th-place finish in 2:39:15.  In his place, Koichiro Yamanaka, a bronze medalist in the marathon at the Deaflympics, stepped up to take 1st in 2:29:41.  Women's winner Chika Tawara, a 2:40:00 marathoner, collapsed from exhaustion and the cold after crossing the line in 2:51:11.



To the east in Shikoku the men's race at the 53rd Ehime Marathon went out at course record pace before fading with likewise worsening conditions.  Local Sohei Wada, a former member of the disbanded Shikoku Denryoku corporate team, outlasted his corporate and university competition to win in 2:21:42.  In the women's race 22-year-old Marie Yamakawa, a student at the local Matsuyama University, took the win in her marathon debut in 2:43:33.

Next to Nobeoka, the weekend's fastest results came far to the northeast in Iwaki, Fukushima.  Cancelled last year due to heavy snow, this year's Iwaki Sunshine Marathon saw Shun Suzuki (Nanyo City Hall) and Yuki Konno (Musashino Gakuin Univ.) battle it out over a tough, hilly course to both break the course record.  Suzuki got the win in 2:19:01 with Konno, set to join the Comody Iida corporate team in April after his graduation, just back in 2:19:20.  New Zealand's Victoria Beck won the women's race in 2:47:38 by a margin of nearly 4 minutes.

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Cheboitibin Breaks Seko's Course Record at Ome 30 km

One of Japan's longest-standing course records at its elite races fell Sunday as Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) beat the great Toshihiko Seko's 38-year-old Ome 30 km Road Race record by almost 30 seconds.

Tough and hilly with a net climb in the first half and descent on the return trip, Ome is a standard spring marathon prep run and a natural partner for April's Boston Marathon, with which it has a longstanding athlete exchange program. The 2017 Ome winner, this time out Cheboitibin was gunning for Seko's record from the start, hitting the mostly uphill 10 km completely solo in 29:47, 20 km midway through the return trip in 59:30, and saving his fastest 10 km split for the end as he crossed the finish line in 1:29:06. Seko's 1:29:32 just two months before his first Boston win had made him the only man in Ome history to break 90 minutes. With the best performance of his career Cheboitibin turned the page on that history.

With the withdrawal of Fukuoka winner

Beppu-Oita Marathon to Review Staff Training After Interpreter Refers to African Athletes as "Chimpanzees"

On Feb. 14 the organizers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon confirmed that a local woman in her fifties who served as an interpreter at this year's race had published a blog post in which she referred to the African athletes on whose behalf she had worked as "chimpanzees." The woman said she had no malicious or racist intent behind her comments, but a spokesperson for the organizers called her choice of words "inappropriate." Organizers plan to review their training and guidance procedures for all race management staff members.

The Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon took place in the two cities on Feb. 3. According to the spokesperson, the blog to which the woman posted the comments is for members of a sports club to which she belongs to report on what they have been doing. On Feb. 10 she wrote about her work with the African athletes, posting it with public access so that anyone could read it. She described the struggle of talking to the African athletes, saying …

Japan Names National Team for 23rd Asian Athletics Championships

Japan has named a team featuring ten individual medalists from the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games to get an early taste of this year's World Championships  at April's Doha Asian Athletics Championships. Along with its gold medal-winning men's 4x100 m team, standouts include Jakarta gold medalists Yuki Koike (Sumitomo Denko) in the men's 200 m, Seito Yamamoto (Toyota) in the men's pole vault and Keisuke Ushiro (Kokushin Univ. AC) in the decathlon.

The women's long distance roster is strong, led by 2018 World U20 Championships 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Tanaka (ND28 AC) in the 5000 m and the resurgent Hitomi Niiya (Nike Tokyo TC) in the 10000 m, while the most interesting name among the men is Jakarta 3000 m steeplechase bronze medalist Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.).
23rd Asian Athletics ChampionshipsJapanese National Team
Doha, Qatar, Apr. 21-24, 2019
complete team listing
underlined athletes are 2018 Asian Games medalists

Women
Sprints
Chisato Fukushima (Seiko) - 100…