translated and edited by Brett Larner
The first half marathon to be held in Tokyo's Nerima ward, the Nerima Kobushi Half Marathon went off at 8:00 a.m. on Mar. 29. Starting at Hikarigaoka Municipal Park, the course offered a tour of the area's major roads before returning to finish at the park. With more than 90% of the course run on public roads including a section of highway passing through Nerima, the route gave runners the chance to run on roads normally closed to them.
At the opening ceremony Nerima mayor Akio Maekawa gave his support to participants, telling them, "I want to see the results of all the work you put into your running every day and hope that you have fun running this course." Around 5000 people were entered in the race, with special guests including #1 amateur runner Yuki Kawauchi, former marathon great Mari Tanigawa and comedians Tetsu and Tomo. Turning in a masterful solo performance, Kawauchi was first across the finish line in 1:05:39. Still recovering fitness after a long-lasting sprain to his left ankle, Kawauchi said, "Compared to a month ago I'm able to run more now. I'm back to about 75% of normal." Even at that level he dropped his nearest competition in Nerima by the 2 km point. "My result today wasn't bad," he smiled. "One day at a time." Kaori Yoshida, 33, won the women's race in 1:16:12.
Earlier in the morning at the U.S.A. at the Texas Relays track meet in Austin, Texas, Kawauchi's fellow Saitama prefecture resident Yoshihide Kiryu (19, Toyo University) ran a wind-assisted time of 9.87 in the men's 100 m. Kawauchi didn't hear about Kiryu's run until after his own race but was very excited when he heard the time, saying, "He finally did it! I had no idea." When told that the wind reading was 3.3 m/s Kawauchi sighed, "Gah!" but sent Kiryu his encouragement, saying, "This will serve as a major stimulus for him. Even if his time wasn't legal because of the wind, it's really important that he got the experience of running that kind of speed once. The Asian Games [where Kiryu was a DNS due to injury] are probably an unhappy memory, but I hope that he shines at the Beijing World Championships."