Skip to main content

Yuta Shitara Breaks Japanese Men's Half Marathon National Record in Berlin Marathon Tuneup at Usti nad Labem Half

A week after his 28:55 at the Birell Prague Grand Prix 10 km and just eight days out from the Berlin Marathon, Yuta Shitara (Honda) made the great leap forward, taking 8 seconds off Atsushi Sato's 2007 half marathon Japanese national record, finishing 8th at the Czech Republic's Usti nad Labem Half Marathon.

Shitara is probably most well-known outside Japan for going through halfway under 62 minutes during his marathon debut at this year's Tokyo Marathon and still ending up with a 2:09:27, but he's been turning heads in Japan since his second year at Toyo University when he broke a stage record at the 2012 Hakone Ekiden and outkicked the U.S.A.'s Dathan Ritzenhein to finish in 1:01:48 at the NYC Half two months later, until this year the fastest time ever by a Japanese man on U.S soil.

Three weeks before Tokyo this year he ran a 1:01:19 PB at the Marugame Half. Many people would call that a solid tuneup three weeks out from a serious marathon, but eight days? In Prague both Shitara and his coach Satoshi Ogawa told JRN that he planned to run "marathon pace," 3:00/km, ahead of a planned shot at 2:07 in Berlin. Finding himself right behind eventual women's winner Joyciline Jepkosgei (Kenya), Shitara ratcheted up the pace and ended up as the top Japanese finisher in 28:55.

A week later and he was way faster, going through 10 km just off the Japanese NR in 28:10 and rocking steady to beat all the other next-generation Hakone stars transitioning to life in the longer distances, Suguru Osako (NOP), Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei), his twin brother Keita Shitara (Saitama T&F Assoc.) and others, to Sato's antique 1:00:25 mark.

Surely that's faster than his planned pace in Berlin. It has to be a confidence builder, but it''s almost equally surely too much a week and a day out from a hard marathon. After Tokyo Shitara said he would definitely go with the leaders next time. Ogawa told JRN in Prague that compared to Tokyo Shitara's stamina is far improved now. As wiser people have said, it's such a fine line between brilliant and stupid. If he gets away with it in Berlin, Shitara and his coach are geniuses. If not....well, he still set the half marathon national record, so it's not exactly stupid.

Considering the possible outcomes, Shitara's fellow Saitama native Yuki Kawauchi told JRN, "The only thing you can say for sure is that he's definitely, 100%, going to go with the lead group." If Shitara does and makes it to 30 km alongside Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia), Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) and Wilson Kipsang (Kenya), one way or the other he'll be in for a hell of a last 12 km.


Usti nad Labem Half Marathon

Czech Republic, 9/16/17
click here for complete results

Men
1. Barselius Kipyego (Kenya) - 59:14
2. Josphat Tanui (Kenya) - 59:22
3. Ismail Juma (Tanzania) - 59:30 - NR
4. Wilfred Kimitei (Kenya) - 1:00:12
5. Philip Tarbei (Kenya) - 1:00:13
6. Aziz Lahbabi (Morocco) - 1:00:15
7. Solomon Yego (Kenya) - 1:00:16
8. Yuta Shitara (Japan/Honda) - 1:00:17 - NR
9. Isaac Langat (Kenya) - 1:00:25
10. Kenneth Keter (Kenya) - 1:01:05

Women
1. Violah Jepchumba (Bahrain) - 1:06:06 - NR
2. Nancy Kiprop (Kenya) - 1:07:22
3. Lucy Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 1:07:23
4. Stacy Ndiwa (Kenya) - 1:09:09
5. Yvonne Jelagat (Kenya) - 1:10:25

© 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Calendar of Major Races

About Japan Running News

JRN started in 2007 in the interest of making Japanese distance running more accessible to non-Japanese speakers. JRN provides original content and results for all of Japan's major domestic elite races and overseas competitions by notable Japanese athletes.  Please contact us in advance with regard to reproducing original JRN content. Thank you.

JRN also provides professional translations of distance running-related articles from Japanese-language media free of charge, both to make such material accessible to non-Japanese speakers and to show the ways and degree to which distance running is covered by the Japanese media. Any translated material may be quoted or reproduced elsewhere in return for translator credit and acknowledgement of the original sources.