Skip to main content

Weekend Road Racing in Review

by Brett Larner
Sakamoto photo c/o Yichen Ding

The 100th Japanese National Track and Field Championships were the weekend's main event, but there was no shortage of road racing action at home and abroad.  The Hakodate Half Marathon was the most major, this year featuring the addition of a full marathon division for the first time.  2015 Marugame Half Marathon winner Paul Kuira (Konica Minolta) took another Japanese half title, pushing through rain and winds for the win in 1:03:14 over a small pack including Charles Ndungu (Komori Corp.), defending champion Michael Githae (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta).  Just a week after setting the 50 km national record, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) pushed up through the field late in the race to pass ten people in the last 5 km for 5th overall in 1:04:24.  Sayo Nomura (Daiichi Seimei) took the women's half in 1:13:02, while Tokyo-based amateur Takehiko Gyoba became Hakodate's first marathon champ in 2:26:54.

Across the island of Hokkaido the Lake Saroma Ultramarathon was also going down in similarly tough conditions.  Tatsuya Inagaki (Mishima RC) took the men's 100 km title in 6:37:05, with Hisayo Matsumoto (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) outrunning Mai Fujisawa (Sapporo Excel AC) by less than three minutes for the women's 100 km win in 7:39:51.

Nearby in northeastern China, 2015 Zurich Marathon winner Yoshiko Sakamoto (Y.W.C.) ran in the first edition of the Jilin International Marathon with support from JRN.  Following up on a season that saw her DNS at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon when her children came down with the flu, DNS a few weeks later in Tokyo when she herself came down with the flu, and DNF in freezing rain while leading during her title defense in Zurich in April, Sakamoto finally put it all together to take 4th in 2:37:57.  Kenyans Agnes Barsosio and Sylvester Teimet won in 2:34:15 and 2:14:23.

In Europe, 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon winner Risa Takenaka replicated Sakamoto's result with a 4th-place finish in 1:12:53 in hot conditions at the Czech Republic's Olomouc Half Marathon.  The great Mary Keitany (Kenya) won in 1:08:53, while Kenyan Olympic marathoner Stanley Biwott won the men's race in a solid 1:00:46.

Sakamoto photo © 2016 Yichen Ding, all rights reserved
text © 2016 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Lavues said…
All runners are so amazing!

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

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…