Skip to main content

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a long uphill at 29 km she lost contact. Habtegebrel surged at 30 km to open a 10 m lead on Daniel and Daba, but they soon regained contact. Near 35 km Daniel went to the front for the first time, putting Daba out of contention.

From there to the finish it was a battle on an incremental scale, both runners launching brief attacks and alternating the lead, the face of each betraying patches good and bad. Habtegebrel looked the stronger in the last km, but with just over 200 m to go Daniel dropped the kick that gave her the win, opening 3 seconds over her Ethiopian-born rival. Daba hung on for 3rd in 2:30:06.

Further back, Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain), an early casualty of Iwade's aggressive pacing, came back to run her down, passing her at 38 km and opening more than 30 seconds over the last 4 km to take 4th in 2:30:34. Iwade was 7 minutes off her best and over 2 minutes short of the 2:29:00 qualifying standard, taking 5th in 2:31:11. It was a disappointing result for the JAAF, who hoped to have the talented young Iwade's name added to the early list of trials qualifiers. All told the windy conditions made for slower than expected times, 10th-placer Shiori Shimomura (Comody Iida) the only woman in the top 10 to PB at 2:43:51.

Starting 30 minutes after the elite women, the mass-participation field saw local hero and race ambassador Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) line up a week after running 2:15:02 at the Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes Nice-Cannes in France, just the second time in his career that he has tackled back-to-back marathons. With the 2:18:50 course record well within his sights Kawauchi hoped to run 2:13 to 2:15 and break into the elite women's top ten.

An over-enthusiastic start took him through 5 km on high-2:08 pace, and from there to the finish Kawauchi ran almost every 5 km slower than the one before. Just past 40 km he passed 12th-place woman Yoshida, and with a kick he crossed the finish almost three minutes under the course record in 2:15:54. His 75th marathon, Kawauchi's result was the 60th sub-2:16 of his career and put him just two races away from American Doug Kurtis' sub-2:20 career record, a mark he hopes to tie at next month's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and break at January's Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A.

In the general division women's race another serial racing local also took the top spot. Just nine days after winning the Gunma Marathon in a 2:40:59 PB and course record, 24-year-old amateur Tomomi Sawahata (Sawahatters) won the general division in 2:41:30, a time that would have put her 10th in the elite division. With both races having had just three runnings it was Sawahata's third year in a row doing the Gunma-Saitama double, all wins and all but one in low-2:40-range times. A sub-2:40 would put her at the very top of Japan's amateur list and normally a woman that level would run in the JAAF-registered division at races, but Sawahata appears to be steadfast in remaining in the general division in every race that she runs. Chalk her up as another unique individualist out of Saitama prefecture.

3rd Saitama International Marathon

Saitama, 11/12/17

Women
1. Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) - 2:28:39
2. Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) - 2:28:42
3. Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) - 2:30:06
4. Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain) - 2:30:34
5. Reia Iwade (Japan/Dome) - 2:31:11
6. Philes Ongori (Kenya) - 2:32:01
7. Sinead Diver (Australia) - 2:33:01
8. Monika Stefanowicz (Poland) - 2:38:31
9. Mayumi Uchiyama (Japan/Nitori) - 2:41:28
10. Shiori Shimomura (Japan/Comody Iida) - 2:43:51 - PB
11. Alice Mason (New Zealand) - 2:44:05 - PB
12. Kaori Yoshida (Japan/RxL) - 2:46:50

Men
1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:15:54 - CR

General Division Women
1. Tomomi Sawahata (Sawahatters) - 2:41:30

Kawauchi photo by Ekiden Mania, © 2017 Kazuyuki Sugimatsu, all rights reserved
text © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kariuki Cracks Course Record at 30th Anniversary Ageo City Half Marathon

2017 Kanto Regionals 10000 m and half marathon D2 champion Simon Kariuki (Nihon Yakka Univ.)  overcame windy conditions at the 30th edition of the Ageo City Half Marathon to shave one second off the course record, winning in a PB 1:01:25.

Kariuki and 2017 Kanto Regionals D1 5000 m and 10000 m champ Patrick Mathenge Wambui (Nihon Univ.) took it out in the first km, setting up a fascinating duel between Kanto's top two collegiate men on the track.


Led by Hayato Seki, star runner of this year's Izumo Ekiden champ Tokai University in his half marathon debut, the main body of the Japanese pack gradually relinquished the lead to the Kenyan pair, down 50 seconds by 10 km and continuing to drift back from then. Ageo has typically seen its lead Japanese collegiate men running between high-61 and mid-62, but nobody in the field seemed willing to go ahead of Seki and the runner on his shoulder, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.).


Near …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…

Kosimbei, Kwemoi and Shitara Lead Hachioji 10000 m Field

Nestled deep in the misty foothills of the western Tokyo mountains, Hosei University's late November Hachioji Long Distance meet has quietly turned into one of the world's premier track 10000 m, its A-heat never quite dipping under 27 minutes yet but still producing record-setting depth and the two fastest Japanese men's 10000 m in history.
This year's entry list is another monster, with 27:02.59 man Nicholas Kosimbei (Toyota) leading 17 men with recent times under 28 minutes, twelve of them Kenyan, three Japanese and two Ethiopian. Fresh off a 27:22.73 win at last weekend's Nittai University Time Trials, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) is slated to pace what is scheduled to be a sub-28 race, but with Kosimbei, sub-27:30 men John Maina (Fujitsu) and Rodgers Chumo Kwemoi (Aisan Kogyo) and five others under 27:45 including last year's winnerRonald Kwemoi (Komori Corp.) on the list the front end should go faster. 
Rig…