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Fujiwara and Okada Win Hokkaido Marathon (updated with video)

by Brett Larner



His career marked by more ups and downs than virtually any other elite marathoner, London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) pulled yet another surprise comeback out of nowhere on a week's notice to win the hot and humid Hokkaido Marathon in Sapporo on Sunday.  One of only five Japanese men to ever win a marathon outside Japan under 2:10, after a mid-race surge Fujiwara's strategy evoked his course record-setting 2010 Ottawa Marathon win, waiting until the final km before going for a long surge over a group of five including his training partner and 2010 Hokkaido winner Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Arata Project), 2015 Nagano Marathon runner-up Tomohiro Tanigawa (Team Konica Minolta) and others.  Fujiwara crossed the finish line to claim his second career marathon victory in 2:16:49, one of the slower winning times in recent Hokkaido history but a full 11 seconds over Njui in the final kilometer.

Njui held off Tanigawa, who previously felt the sting of Fujiwara's finishing speed at the 2013 Great North Run half marathon in the U.K., by 3 seconds, 2:17:00 to 2:17:03 with 4th-placer Hideaki Tamura (Team JR Higashi Nihon) just behind in 2:17:04.  Maybe the only negative from Fujiwara's perspective: earlier the same morning his indie rival Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) won Australia's Perth City to Surf Marathon in a slightly faster time of 2:16:23.  With a successful marathon behind him Fujiwara now turns his focus to the corporate federation's ~$1 million bonus for a new Japanese national record.

The women's race was clearer-cut, with Yui Okada (Team Otsuka Seiyaku), a training partner of Mai Ito who simultaneously took 7th in the Beijing World Championships women's marathon, easily winning her debut in 2:32:10.  Having made a return to marathoning at March's Seoul International Marathon following her two-year suspension for a positive EPO test at the 2012 Honolulu Marathon, 2006 Hokkaido winner Kaori Yoshida (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) was just over a minute behind in 2:33:14, showing few signs of aging at just 21 seconds off her 2006 winning time.  Corporate leaguer Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) was a close 3rd behind Yoshida in 2:33:20.

Hokkaido Marathon
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/30/15 
click here for complete results

Men
1. Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) - 2:16:49
2. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Arata Project) - 2:17:00
3. Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta) - 2:17:03
4. Hideaki Tamura (JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:17:04
5. Yuji Iwata (Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) - 2:17:29
6. Akinori Iida (Honda) - 2:18:22
7. Sho Matsumoto (Nikkei Business Service) - 2:18:22
8. Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:18:56
9. Yuya Ito (Toyota) - 2:18:58
10. Akiyuki Iwanaga (Kyudenko) - 2:19:12
11. Teppei Suegami (YKK) - 2:19:25
12. Kenta Chiba (Fujitsu) - 2:19:33
13. Yu Chiba (Honda) - 2:20:48
-----
DNF - Ryosuke Fukuyama (Honda)

Women
1. Yui Okada (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:32:10
2. Kaori Yoshida (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:33:14
3. Yuko Mizuguchi (Denso) - 2:33:20
4. Asami Furuse (Kyocera) - 2:34:12
5. Aki Odagiri (Tenmaya) - 2:35:01
6. Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:35:23
7. Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:36:35
8. Yukiko Okuno (Shiseido) - 2:36:46
9. Kana Orino (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:38:02
10. Maya Nishio (Hokuren) - 2:39:05

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
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