Skip to main content

Sakamoto Wins Zurich Marathon in International Debut, Kawauchi 2nd Behind Kiyeng

by Brett Larner
photos by Chris Godfrey, Martin Yelling and Brett Larner

Making her international marathon debut in excellent conditions on an almost perfectly flat course, Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.) won the Zurich Marathon with an evenly-paced solo run that put her more than 8 minutes ahead of runner-up Nicola Spirig (Switzerland), the London Olympics triathlon gold medalist.  A 36-year-old mother of three, Sakamoto was a high school star who quit running completely for 9 years before starting again in her early 30s and set a PB 2:36:29 in January this year. Running in Zurich with support from JRN and targeting a 2:34 PB, Sakamoto was slightly off pace from the beginning but never flagged dramatically, going through halfway in 1:18:18 and facing headwinds on the return trip into town before crossing the finish line first in 2:37:47.

Australia's Jane Fardell, a late addition to the field, ran 2nd throughout the race but with a little over a km to go was run down by Spirig, the fastest in the field over the final quarter of the race.

"I'm so relieved and happy to have run a good time," Sakamoto said post-race.  "I had had some leg pain a couple of weeks ago that cut into my training, but it was no trouble during the race.  Partway through I thought I was going to fade and not break 2:40, but I started overtaking some men and that kept me going.  I can't believe I really did it.  I want to take it easy for a little while now and then race on the track.  My next marathon won't be until the fall."

The men's race was likewise slightly behind pace from the start, a ten-man group led by pacer Boaz Kipyego (Kenya), Edwin Kemboi Kiyeng (Kenya) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) staying right together on a pace hovering around 2:11 through 35 km before Kiyeng threw in a surge that put him in position for the win in 2:11:35.  Kawauchi fell to 7th in the wake of Kiyeng's move, but clawing his way back up he was in 4th by 41 km and outkicked Ethiopian Gebre Mekuant Ayenew by 4 seconds in the final 250 m to take 2nd in 2:12:13, his best time so far in a year in which he has struggled to recover from a bad ankle sprain in late December.

Post-race Kawauchi commented, "I'm disappointed not to win, but this was my first time making the podium in Europe so I'm very happy.  My time was not what I was going for either, but there was absolutely no pain or trouble with my ankle and it was just a case of my fitness not being up to where I thought it was yet.  In terms of level the Zurich Marathon was the perfect race for where I am right now and I'm extremely glad I chose it for my main spring race."

Zurich Marathon
Zurich, Switzerland, 4/19/15
click here for complete results

Women
1. Yoshiko Sakamoto (Japan/YWC) - 2:37:47
2. Nicola Spirig (Switzerland) - 2:46:09
3. Jane Fardell (Australia) - 2:46:39
4. Daniella Aeschbacher (Switzerland) - 2:47:38
5. Astrid Muller (Switzerland) - 2:53:18

Men
1. Edwin Kemboi Kiyeng (Kenya) - 2:11:35
2. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:12:13
3. Gebre Mekuant Ayenew (Ethiopia) - 2:12:17
4. Richard Kiprono Bett (Kenya) - 2:12:38
5. Boaz Kipyego (Kenya) - 2:12:59
6. Emmanuel Sikuku (Kenya) - 2:13:10
7. Edwin Kiprop Korir (Kenya) - 2:13:34
8. Robert Ndiwa (Kenya) - 2:13:41
9. Aleksey Sokolov (Russia) - 2:14:45
10. Andrey Safronov (Russia) - 2:15:48
11. Martin Fagan (Ireland) - 2:16:09

Sakamoto finish photo (c) 2015 Chris Godfrey, all rights reserved
Sakamoto solo photo (c) 2015 Martin Yelling, all rights reserved
text and Kawauchi photos (c) 2015 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

Kibet Runs 10000 m World Lead in Kobe, a 3:44.86 High Schooler and More - Weekend Track Roundup

After giving World XC a miss, Kazuki Tamura (Sumitomo Denko) got his outdoor season off to a good start with a 13:33.70 PB for 5th at California's Mt. SAC Relays. His teammate Yuki Nakamura ran only 14:34.97, while the U.S.-based Takeshi Okada (UC Berkeley) ran 9:02.75 for 12th in the 3000 mSC. Toyota Jidoshokki teammates Momoka Kawaguchi and Nao Yamamoto ran the women's 5000 m, Kawaguchi the faster of the two at 15:54.82.

Back home, Bernard Kibet (Kyudenko) ran an early season world-leading time of 27:36.24 to win the Hyogo Relay Carnival Grand Prix men's 10000 m, beating the 27:43.34 by Macharia Ndirangu (Aichi Seiko) a day earlier in Hyogo's Asics Challenge men's 10000 m, at the time also a world-leader. Kibet's teammate Shohei Otsuka was the fastest Japanese man of the weekend at 28:25.42 in the Asics Challenge race.

Women's Grand Prix 10000 m winner Rosemary Monica Wanjiru (Starts) came up short of a world-leading time but was just a few seconds off t…

Kiprop and Hunde Win Nagano Marathon

Ugandan Jackson Kiprop and Ethiopian Meskerem Hunde won Sunday's 21st edition of the Nagano Marathon. Running a steady and well-paced race that went out near 2:10:30 pace and sped up slightly to a 1:04:58 halfway split, Kiprop wore down the competition until there were only four left at 30 km. Ethiopian Deresa Geleta stayed with him until the very end, but Kiprop had the finish in him to open 3 seconds on Geleta to become Nagano's first-ever Ugandan winner in 2:10:39.

Geleta's 2:10:42 was good for a PB, with Japan's Naoya Sakuda (JR Higashi Nihon) also dropping a big PB of 2:11:21 for 3rd over Kenyan Alfred Kering. #1-ranked Asuka Tanaka (Hiramatsu Byoin) was one of the first to drop off Kiprop's early pace but rallied late in the race to take 5th in 2:14:35, his best performance since a stress fracture following his breakthrough in Tokyo last year.

Hunde pulled off an equally evenly-paced run to win the women's race, projected to run 2:33:44 after 5 km and en…