Skip to main content

Fast Times in Tachikawa, National Records in Nagoya, Bounasr on Top at Lake Biwa - Weekend Road Racing Highlights



All three of Sunday's main road races saw quality times thanks to a combination of deep fields, good conditions and the promise of national team spots.

First up at the National University Men's Half Marathon Championships in western Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park, Hakone Ekiden Fourth Stage course record breaker Akira Aizawa (Toyo Univ.) led the top three under 62 minutes in a skillfully controlled 1:01:45. With places on the team for this summer's Napoli World University Games team at stake Aizawa waited until near the end to take advantage of the final hills to break free of the pack.



Runner-up Taisei Nakamura (Komazawa Univ.) and 3rd-placer Tatsuhiko Ito (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) both cleared 62 minutes for the first time, Nakamura in 1:01:51 and Ito in 1:01:52, Ito's mark especially newsworthy from the still fresh new Tokyo Kokusai program. Teammates Hidekazu Hijikata and Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) were both just over the 62-minute mark to round out the probable lineup for the Napoli team. Kenyan corporate leaguer Charles Ndungu (Komori Corp.) just beat Urano for 5th in his last race before joining the Nihon University team.



The Nagoya Women's Marathon saw two national records. Winner Helalia Johannes ran a Namibian record of 2:22:25, taking three and a half minutes off her 7-year-old PB to improbably take down heavyweight Kenyan favorites Valary Jemeli and Visiline Jepkesho. As in Tachikawa the cards were on the table from the beginning, the pacers taking it out on mid-2:22 pace with only the winner sustaining. Jepkesho took 2nd in 2:22:58, with Jemeli just back in 2:23:01.

Japanese half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal), rallying from a fall and DNF in January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, lasted longest before fading but was run down by the only Japanese woman in the field already qualified for September's MGC Race 2020 Olympic marathon trials, Reia Iwade (Under Armour). Iwade achieved her goal of a new PB, breaking 2:24 for the first time in 2:23:52 for 5th. Fukushi held on for 2:24:09 and 8th, the first of five women in Nagoya to join Iwade among the MGC qualifiers. As the last full-on qualifying race the results brought a collective sigh of relief, bringing up the number of women to qualify from nine to fourteen. A little further back, Rachel Cliff finished 15th in 2:26:56, a new Canadian national record.



Like Nagoya the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon was the last full qualifying event for the MGC Race. The pace was very steadily in the low-2:08 range the entire way, allowing the large Japanese men's lead pack and group of six key African-born athletes to stay together much longer than in last week's way faster Tokyo Marathon. The first one to make a move after the pacers stopped was #1-ranked Japanese man Kenji Yamamoto (Mazda), along with Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) one of the two people in the race already MGC-certified. All six main internationals went with him, joined shortly by surprise guest Daiji Kawai (Toenec) with a 2:23:13 best to his name.

Kawai looked like he might hang on, but a few surges and feints soon dropped him. A few more surges including another by Yamamoto broke the pack up further, and it quickly shook down to a head-to-head between Moroccan Salah-Eddine Bounasr and Ethiopian Asefa Tefera over the last 3 km. Tefera took the lead heading onto the track, but Bounasr came back to outkick him over the last 200 m for the win in 2:07:52. South Africa's Stephen Mokoka closed hard to almost run Tefera down, but the Ethiopian hung on for 2nd in 2:07:56 to Mokoka's 2:07:58 for 3rd.

Once dropped Yamamoto faded badly over the final 3 km, managing to take 6 seconds off his best for 2:08:42 for 7th but clearly disappointed. Kawauchi was 8th in 2:09:21, probably enough to score him a spot at the Doha World Championships. Kawai was run down by Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta), no relation to Kenji, Yamamoto taking 10th in 2:10:33 and Kawai 11th in a massive PB of 2:10:50. By clearing 2:11 they both the MGC Race cut, bringing the men's qualifier total to thirty.

The results in Tokyo last week were a bit anomalous due to the high casualty rate from the fast pace, but what was noticeable between Nagoya and Lake Biwa was that the runners who had already qualified for the MGC Race took the top spots in both races, Iwade in Nagoya and Yamamoto and Kawauchi at Lake Biwa. You could probably count Fukushi in that too as she almost certainly would have qualified in Osaka if she hadn't fallen. This suggests that the real contenders are mostly the ones who got it early on, that it's pretty much at the bottom of the barrel as far as people who could have qualified.

It's not quite the end of the window; people have until the end of April to hit the wildcard standards, 2:08:30 or a two-race 2:11:00 average for men and 2:24:00 or 2:28:00 for two races for women. We'll for sure be seeing a few people trying one last time in Nagano and abroad in April, but there aren't likely to be more than a handful of additions. Whether they can do it in a last-ditch attempt and then turn it around in time for September where they'll have to race the people who got it out of the way early is another question.

National University Men's Half Marathon Championships

Showa Kinen Park, Tachikawa, Tokyo, 3/10/19

1. Akira Aizawa (Toyo Univ.) - 1:01:45
2. Taisei Nakamura (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:01:51
3. Tatsuhiko Ito (Tokyo Kokusai Univ.) - 1:01:52
4. Hidekazu Hijikata (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:02
5. Charles Ndungu (Komori Corp.) - 1:02:12
6. Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:14
7. Junnosuke Matsuo (Tokai Univ.) - 1:02:24
8. Ichitaka Yamashita (Komazawa Univ.) - 1:02:36
9. Issei Iwasa (Teikyo Univ.) - 1:02:39
10. Tatsuya Maruyama (Matsudo T&F Assoc.) - 1:02:42

Nagoya Women's Marathon

Nagoya, Aichi, 3/10/19
complete results

1. Helalia Johannes (Namibia) - 2:22:25 - NR
2. Visiline Jepkesho (Kenya) - 2:22:58
3. Valary Jemeli (Kenya) - 2:23:01
4. Meseret Defar (Ethiopia) - 2:23:33
5. Reia Iwade (Japan/Under Armour) - 2:23:52
6. Monica Jepkoech (Kenya) - 2:23:59
7. Sara Dossena (Italy) - 2:24:00
8. Kayoko Fukushi (Japan/Wacoal) - 2:24:09
9. Miyuki Uehara (Japan/Daiichi Seimei) - 2:24:19
10. Sairi Maeda (Japan/Daihatsu) - 2:25:25
11. Mizuki Tanimoto (Japan/Tenmaya) - 2:25:28
12. Ayano Ikemitsu (Japan/Kagoshima Ginko) - 2:26:07
13. Zhixuan Li (China) - 2:26:15
14. Ellie Pashley (Australia) - 2:26:21
15. Rachel Cliff (Canada) - 2:26:56 - NR
-----
DNF - Kaori Yoshida (Japan/Team RxL)

Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon

Otsu, Shiga, 3/10/19
complete results

1. Salah-Eddine Bounasr (Morocco) - 2:07:52
2. Asefa Tefera (Ethiopia) - 2:07:56
3. Stephen Mokoka (South Africa) - 2:07:58
4. Benson Seurei (Bahrain) - 2:08:08
5. Deribe Robi (Ethiopia) - 2:08:11
6. Alphonce Felix Simbu (Tanzania) - 2:08:27
7. Kenji Yamamoto (Japan/Mazda) - 2:08:42
8. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:21
9. Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Kenya/Sunbelx) - 2:09:58
10. Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:10:33
11. Daiji Kawai (Japan/Toenec) - 2:10:50
12. Yuta Takahashi (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:11:25
13. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Japan/Toyota) - 2:12:01
14. Yusuke Ogura (Japan/Yakult) - 2:12:10
15. Yukio Fujimura (Japan/Sumitomo Denko) - 2:12:13
-----
25. Nick Earl (Great Britain) - 2:14:38
26. Julian Spence (Australia) - 2:14:42
-----
DNF - Abiyot Abinet (Ethiopia/Yachiyo Kogyo)
DNF - Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC)
DNF - Suehiro Ishikawa (Japan/Honda)
DNF - Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea)
DNF - Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko)
DNF - Ernest Ngeno (Kenya)

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

j said…
Gabriel Geay was pacemaker, Ernest Ngeno was DNF

Most-Read This Week

60-Year-Old Hiromi Nakata Wins Tottori Marathon Overall Women's Race

The Tottori Marathon held its 12th running on March 10. In light rain and 11˚C temperatures 3717 people ran Tottori's one-way course that passes local historic sites such as the Tottori Sand Dunes and the Tottori Castle ruins. Running 3:12:44 for the overall women's win was 60-year-old Hiromi Nakata.
"I was as surprised as anyone that I won," said Tanaka. "I had to stop at the toilets early on and lost some time, but I tried using the double inhale, double exhale breathing method that the actor Kankuro Nakamura uses on the Idaten TV show and got into a good rhythm. Thanks to that I could just keep going and going. I had no idea I was in 1st, and when they put up the finish tape as I was coming in I thought, 'No way!'""
Nakata is a resident of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. In 2017 she ran the fastest time of the year in Japan by a 58-year-old, 3:05:02. In the mornings she does housework and works in her garden for an hour, fitting in 30 to 60-minute run…

Japan's Oldest-Ever Olympic Marathoner Suehiro Ishikawa Retires at 39

At a press conference in Sayama, Saitama on Mar. 20, 2016 Rio Olympics marathoner Suehiro Ishikawa, 39, announced that he will retire from competition at the end of the month. At the time of the Rio Olympics Ishikawa was 36 years and 11 months old, surpassing 1996 Atlanta Olympics marathoner Hiromi Taniguchi's record of 36 years and 3 months to become Japan's oldest-ever Olympic marathoner. He finished 36th.

"Since I started running high school it's been 24 years," said Ishikawa at the press conference. "I've been with Honda for 17 years, and I made it all the way to the top, the Olympics. I'm glad that I've kept going this long. I thank you all."

Ishikawa ran the Mar. 10 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon but dropped out after only 10 km. It was to be the last race of his career. "It was the first time in my career that I'd ever DNFd, and I thought, 'OK, this is where it ends,'" said Ishikawa. Shortly after the race he made …

Yoshitomi Survives Four Marathons in Four Weeks to Win Saga Sakura Marathon

Arguably the highest-volume elite-level marathoner in the world, Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) survived four straight weekends of marathons to win her hometown Saga Sakura Marathon yesterday.

Starting the month off at the Mar. 3 Tokyo Marathon Yoshitomi ran 2:32:30 for 13th. A week later at the Mar. 10 Nagoya Women's Marathon it was 2:34:49 for 31st. Last weekend she headed overseas in a bid to win the Mar. 17 New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi Marathon in Taiwan, but in a rare off day she finished 6th in only 2:48:45. Heading back home she rallied to win the Mar. 24 Saga Sakura Marathon in 2:42:02.

At an expo talk show appearance the Wan Jin Shi organizers billed Yoshitomi as "the female Kawauchi," but not even he has come close to the kind of volume of racing Yoshitomi has been turning out over the years while working at her parents' botanical farm. Expect to see more, and more, and more from her in the months to come.



photos courtesy of Wan Jin Shi Marathon organizers
text …