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Ashi and Ito Win, Hsieh Breaks Taiwanese National Record at Osaka Half



Held alongside the Osaka International Women's Marathon, the Osaka Half Marathon has continued to grow at the elite level into one of the post-ekiden season's top-tier Japanese half marathons. On the women's side, Maki Ashi (Kyudenko) was just off her best as she won in 1:11:26, opening a lead of over 20 seconds in the first 5 km and going the rest of the way alone. Ayaka Yokose (Yamada Denki) was the only other woman to crack 1:12, 2nd in 1:11:58. Taiwanese national record holder Chien-ho Hsieh spent most of the race in 3rd, but despite getting caught by Madoka Nakano (Noritz) with just over 5 km to go Hsieh pushed on to take almost three minutes off her own national record, landing 4th in 1:12:19.

The men's race saw a deep pack go through halfway on sub-1:02 pace, things slowing slightly before 15 km but no real carnage happening until the final stages. With seven still in contention with just over a kilometer to go it came down to a sprint finish on the track, the group boiling down rapidly over the last lap to a duel between Kazuma Ito (Sumitomo Denki) and Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki). Ito got the win in 1:02:10, lopping 55 seconds off the Osaka course record set just last year and 24 seconds off his own best.

The 35-year-old Nakamoto, Japan's best championship marathoner with three top ten finishes at the World Championships and one at the Olympics, was right behind him in 1:02:12, taking 17 seconds off his PB set way back in 2009. Due for a duel with longtime rival Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) at April's Boston Marathon, Nakamoto was also 6 seconds under Kawauchi's best for the half marathon.  In 6th, Tsuyoshi Bando (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) ran an excellent 1:02:25, a rare sub-1:03 clocking by a non-Hakone Ekiden university from outside the Kanto Region. The top ten all broke the old course record of 1:03:05, a big jump in depth and quality that lands Osaka just behind next weekend's Marugame Half on Japan's list of key winter races.

Osaka Half Marathon

Osaka, 1/28/18
click here for women's results
click here for men's results

Women
1. Maki Ashi (Kyudenko) - 1:11:26
2. Ayaka Yokose (Yamada Denki) - 1:11:58
3. Madoka Nakano (Noritz) - 1:12:12
4. Chien-Ho Hsieh (Taiwan) - 1:12:19 - NR
5. Nanayo Okamoto (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 1:12:31
6. Ayano Tanaka (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 1:13:20
7. Rui Nishida (Sysmex) - 1:13:34
8. Asuka Yamamoto (Osaka Geijutsu Univ.) - 1:13:37
9. Mami Onuki (Sysmex) - 1:14:03
10. Yuki Kanehira (Sysmex) - 1:14:19

Men
1. Kazuma Ito (Sumitomo Denko) - 1:02:10 - CR
2. Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) - 1:02:12
3. Ryusei Takahashi (Aichi Seiko) - 1:02:14
4. Koki Tanaka (Kanebo) - 1:02:15
5. Masato Terauchi (Aichi Seiko) - 1:02:23
6. Tsuyoshi Bando (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:25
7. Takuya Fukatsu (Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:29
8. Kazuki Muramoto (Sumitomo Denko) - 1:02:35
9. Masamichi Yasuda (Aichi Seiko) - 1:02:39
10. Yuichiro Nishikawa (Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:42

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Naoki Okamotoage: 35
sponsor: Chugoku Denryoku
graduated from: Tottori Chuo Ikuei H.S., Meiji University

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PB: 2:11:29, 1st, 2018 Hokkaido Marathon

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5000 m: 13:37.71 (2009) 10000 m: 28:05.84 (2011) half marathon: 1:02:16 (2009)

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21st, 2017 Tokyo Marathon, 2:13:53

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