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Okayama and Masuda Score Sado Toki Marathon Victories, Kawauchi Wins Half

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2015/04/27/kiji/K20150427010244100.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2726 people ran the 2015 Sado Toki Marathon on April 26 on a course starting and finishing in front of Ondeko Dome on the island of Sadogashima, Niigata.  In the race's main distance, Haruki Okayama, 20, won the men's marathon in 2:37:16, with Akiko Masuda, 30, winning the women's marathon in 3:05:28.  Appearing as a special guest, 2014 Asian Games marathon bronze medalist Yuki Kawauchi brought prestige and popularity to the event as he was first across the finish line in the half marathon in 1:06:14.

Making his marathon debut, Okayama took the lead at 35 km and opened a margin of 5 minutes 30 seconds over 2nd place.  "I didn't know how I should be pacing myself and it got pretty hot out there, so it was tough," he said.  "I didn't think I could win it."  As a student in Kumamoto Okayama was a member of the Chinzei H.S. ekiden team but was frequently injured.  Currently in his third year at Tokyo Nogyo University, he trains with the Waseda University Running Club.  His goal for the future is to emulate Kawauchi.  "In the future I want to be a force to reckon with as an amateur runner."

With a 2:41:25 best women's winner Masuda was in a different league from the rest of the field in her first time running the Sado Toki Marathon.  "Recently I've only been jogging," she said, but even so she beat 2nd place by a massive margin of over 20 minutes.  At Niigata Daiichi H.S. she ran the National High School Ekiden Championships twice, both times running its highly competitive First Stage.  Last year she won the Niigata City Marathon, another indication of her ability.  Of her first time on Sadogashima she said, "It was very pleasant to run in the midst of the beautiful natural environment here on Sadogashima."

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