by Brett Larner
United Airlines NYC Half with support from JRN, their last time running together before Ichida's graduation at the end of the month. With bests of 1:02:02 and 1:02:03 from last November's Ageo City Half Marathon, both were aiming for mid to high 1:01 times and went out with the lead pack running that pace through the hills of Central Park in the first half of the course. But when the pace quickened heading down 7th Avenue into the city neither could keep up with the change, first Ichida and then Takada slipping away from the front quartet led by last year's 3rd-placer Stephen Sambu (Kenya) and then from the mostly American chase pack including Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi and World Half Marathon bronze medalist Dathan Ritzenhein.
Down almost 10 seconds on Takada at one point, Ichida fought his way back with a fast finish to close to within a stride, not quite matching the near-photo finish between winner Leonard Korir (Kenya) in 1:01:06 and runner-up Sambu in 1:01:07 but still close, Takada 11th in 1:03:21 and Ichida 12th in 1:03:22. Their times were the 9th and 10th-fastest ever by Japanese men on U.S. soil, meaning that 7 of the all-time top 10 including the two fastest have been set by university runners at the NYC Half over the last four years.
"Given the conditions I don't think their times were that bad," said Takada's coach Yasuyuki Watanabe, one of the most famous names in Japanese distance running and making his final appearance as head coach at Waseda University before retiring at the end of the school year this month. "My only regret is that they weren't able to stay with Ritzenhein and the others in the second pack. I think Takada could have been 5th or 6th if they had. Next year." Takada echoed Watanabe's words, saying, "I'm kicking myself for not staying with them. That was a real eye opener." Wrapping up his university career before heading to the Asahi Kasei corporate team next month with his twin brother Hiroshi, Ichida said, "I'm very grateful that I had the opportunity to run in this race and I'm sorry that I couldn't repay it with a better result."
In the women's race, won in 1:08:31 by American Molly Huddle in a performance all the more brilliant for the head/crosswind that seemed to slow most runners' times over the unprotected second half of the course along the Hudson River, Hanae Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) was quickly out of the lead pack. A teammate but not relative of Yokohama International Women's Marathon winner Tomomi Tanaka, she spent much of the race solo and finished just outside the money in 13th in 1:12:58.
10th United Airlines NYC Half
New York, New York, 3/15/15
complete results coming shortly
1. Leonard Korir (Kenya) - 1:01:06
2. Stephen Sambu (Kenya) - 1:01:07
3. Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) - 1:01:14
4. Lusapho April (South Africa) - 1:01:21
5. Andrew Bumbalough (U.S.A.) - 1:02:04
6. Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) - 1:02:07
7. Kevin Chelimo (Kenya) - 1:02:11
8. Meb Keflezighi (U.S.A.) - 1:02:17
9. Arne Gabius (Germany) - 1:02:34
10. Wesley Korir (Kenya) - 1:03:11
11. Koki Takada (Japan/Waseda Univ.) - 1:03:21
12. Takashi Ichida (Japan/Daito Bunka Univ.) - 1:03:22
1. Molly Huddle (U.S.A.) - 1:08:31
2. Joyce Chepkirui (Kenya) - 1:08:42
3. Sally Kipyego (Kenya) - 1:09:39
4. Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 1:09:53
5. Rkia El Moukin (Morocco) - 1:10:14
6. Natasha Wodak (Canada) - 1:11:20
7. Etaferahu Temesgen (Ethiopia) - 1:11:22
8. Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton (Kenya) - 1:11:35
9. Lanni Marchant (Canada) - 1:12:05
10. Annie Bersagel (U.S.A.) - 1:12:19
13. Hanae Tanaka (Japan/Daiichi Seimei) - 1:12:58
text and photo (c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved