by Brett Larner
Gold Coast Airport Marathon, high-quality fields and the relative absence of the Gold Coast's infamous winds combining for a day to remember. Japan's Takehiro Deki (Team Chugoku Denryoku) got things started in the men's half marathon, running alone after just 7 km to drop a 1:02:11 PB for the win, the 5th-fastest winning time in the event's 32-year history. A very likeable former Hakone Ekiden star who as a complete unknown in college ran a 58:51 CR at the Takashimadaira 20 km and a 2:10:02 marathon debut without specific marathon training his junior year, Deki helped set Aoyama Gakuin University on the road to its course-record Hakone Ekiden win this year.
"It was a little tough being out there on my own," he said post-race, "but I ran the way I wanted. This was a big step toward making the Rio Olympics team in the marathon." Deki's coach Yasushi Sakaguchi, who previously coached 2:07 marathoners Atsushi Sato and Shigeru Aburuya and Helsinki World Championships bronze medalist Tsuyoshi Ogata, told JRN, "Deki has been in a slump ever since that marathon debut, but he's obviously on the way back up now. He's a very interesting athlete. He has got short legs, a big head, funny arm carriage, but he can run. He is going to run 2:06."
The men's marathon went out hard. Very hard. 14:49 through 5 km, 2:05:03 pace vs. the course and Australian all-comers' record 2:09:14 set last year by Silah Limo (Kenya). Coming in at less than peak fitness, 2013 winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) was the only non-African to try to roll with the pace, but in short order even he was left tumbling in the turbulence, caught at 10 km by the unheralded Shigeki Tsuji (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) coached by Japan's first 2:06 marathoner Takayuki Inubushi.
Up to 30 km there were few major breaks, the pack simply wearing down as the pace and rising temperatures took their toll. 40+ world record holder Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) repeatedly fell off the pack but clawed his way back. One pacer stepped off at 30 km, prompting Limo to attack, but with 10 km to go it was still a pack of five including pacer Isaias Beyn, a mid-2:11 marathoner who it soon became clear was staying in to win. Limo continued to push the tempo until it looked like a head-to-head race between him and 2:07 man Evans Ruto (Kenya), but again in the last 3 km Mungara ground back, this time going out front and getting away.
With a kilometer to go he was confident enough to give a #1 sign to the crowd, sailing on unchallenged to win in 2:08:42, breaking the course record, the Australian all-comers' record and his own 40+ world record. Limo and Ruto joined him under 2:09, a historic day in Australian marathoning, with Tewelde Hidru (Eritrea) claiming a solid 2:09:33 PB for 4th. Beyn held on to 5th, staggering, falling to his knees, getting up and continuing on as he came into the home straight with a PB and prize money in sight.
In what can charitably be described only as a major f*ck up, two well-meaning race volunteers ran down the straight and, unthinkably, grabbed Beyn's arms and pulled him forward over the last 100 m. This of course resulted in Beyn being disqualified, through the interference of race staff and no fault of his own, a DQ from a potential PB for 5th holding major repercussions for his career as a developing athlete. One can only hope that the Gold Coast Airport Marathon pays out the 5th-place prize money due to him for a performance in which he clearly gave everything he had.
Tsuji held on to the top Japanese spot, finishing 7th in 2:15:19. London Olympics marathoner Ryo Yamamoto (SGH Group) overtook Kawauchi mid-race, Kawauchi falling as low as 17th before rallying to catch Yamamoto by seconds for 8th in 2:16:23. In overtaking Yamamoto Kawauchi has now beaten all three members of Japan's 2012 London Olympics marathon squad in head-to-head competition over the marathon distance since failing to make the London team. "Well, there is that, I guess," he said post-race, "but I certainly wouldn't have hoped to do it in this kind of time."
In the women's marathon, where Japanese women have taken four of the last five years including a 2:27:17 course record from Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) in 2013, it was a total blowout as Japanese women swept the top five places. Favorite Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido), running her second marathon after debuting in 2:28:09 in Nagoya in March, went out skimming just under CR pace, through halfway in 1:13:26 with only a male pacer as company. After the pacer's departure at 30 km she began to grow heavy, the record and a PB slipping away but her win guaranteed as she extended the Japanese women's golden streak in 2:28:25 for 1st. "I'm happy to win," she said post-race, "but I came here looking to run a fast time so winning was only achieving my minimum goal. In the winter I'll need to run a much better time to make the Rio Olympic team."
A day earlier in the associated Southern Cross 10 km, Olympian Martin Dent (Australia) turned in a 29:26 to take the men's race by 2 seconds over Malcolm Hicks (New Zealand). Victoria Mitchell (Australia) ran an outstanding 32:59 PB to win the women's race.
Gold Coast Airport Marathon
Gold Coast, Australia, 7/5/15
click here for complete results
1. Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) - 2:08:42 - CR, ACR, MWR
2. Silah Limo (Kenya) - 2:08:54 - PB (ACR)
3. Evans Ruto (Kenya) - 2:08:55
4. Tewelde Hidru (Eritrea) - 2:09:33 - PB
5. Dominic Kimwetich (Kenya) - 2:11:51
6. Alphonce Simbu (Tanzania) - 2:12:01 - debut
7. Shigeki Tsuji (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:15:19
8. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:16:23
9. Ryo Yamamoto (Japan/SGH Group) - 2:16:40
10. Samuel Woldemanuel (Ethiopia) - 2:17:56
1. Risa Takenaka (Japan/Shiseido) - 2:28:25
2. Keiko Nogami (Japan/Juhachi Ginko) - 2:29:34
3. Manami Kamitanida (Japan/Hitachi) - 2:33:43
4. Shoko Shimizu (Japan/Aichi Denki) - 2:37:13
5. Fumiko Hashimoto (Japan/Shimamura) - 2:37:37 - debut
6. Victoria Beck (Australia) - 2:45:58
ASICS Half Marathon
July 5, 2015
1. Takehiro Deki (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:02:11 - PB
2. Liam Adams (Australia) - 1:03:29
3. Ben Moreau (U.K.) - 1:04:32
4. Craig Appleby (Australia) - 1:05:32 - PB
5. Callan Moody (Australia) - 1:05:54
1. Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 1:10:10 - PB
2. Sara Hall (U.S.A.) - 1:10:49 - PB
3. Cassie Fien (Australia) - 1:11:28 - PB
4. Jessica Trengrove (Australia) - 1:11:31
5. Yuka Koga (Japan) - 1:13:35 - PB
8. Remi Nakazato (Japan/Nitori) - 1:14:11
Southern Cross University 10 km
July 4, 2015
1. Martin Dent (Australia) 29:26
2. Malcolm Hicks (New Zealand) 29:28
3. Jordan Gusman (Australia) 29:59 - PB
1. Victoria Mitchell (Australia) 32:59 - PB
2. Sarah Klein (Australia) 33:15 - PB
3. Bridey Delaney (Australia) 33:49 - PB
text, photos and video (c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved