Skip to main content

Ichiyama and Kipkoech Win Sapporo Olympic Test Event Half Marathon


The test event for the Tokyo Olympics marathon went off as planned May 5 in Sapporo on a course more or less mirroring the first half of this summer's Olympic course. Strong winds from the south meant a slow start over the first 8 km, super fast splits from the turn to the north just before 10 km until after 15 km, and a technical finish into the wind over the narrow and winding last few km through the Hokkaido University campus.

After a slow first km, Olympic marathon women's team members Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) and Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) plus alternate Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) took it out hard with pacing courtesy of one of Ichiyama's male coaches. They stayed together on 1:08 pace until almost 18 km before Suzuki slipped away, Ichiyama kicking to win in a 1:08:28 PB and Matsuda closing hard in 1:08:32 for 2nd, likewise a PB. Ichiyama's time moved her up to all-time Japanese #6, with Matsuda picking up the #7 spot and knocking her coach Miwako Yamanaka out of the top ten in the process. Suzuki, already all-time #4, hung on for 3rd in 1:08:53, almost a minute off her best but a huge sigh of relief after over a year of injuries. 

Olympic trials winner Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) spent most of the race alone in 4th before getting caught just before the finish by Germany's Katharina Steinruck. Steinruck took 4th in a PB 1:10:43, impressive considering she ran a marathon PB just two weeks ago in Enschede and had to deal with international travel and COVID-era immigration restrictions in between. Maeda was 5th in 1:10:50, seeming happy with her run after a disappointing 10000 m last week.

Fresh off a 27:35 road 10 km best last month, Kenyan Hillary Kipkoech had no trouble pulling away over the second half after taking advantage of the course's main uphill at 8 km to break free. Kipkoech ran most of the race solo to win in 1:00:46, with Japan-based Kenyan Simon Kariuki (Togami Denki), a past winner of the Ageo City Half Marathon, also mostly alone for 2nd in 1:01:11. Shin Kimura (Honda) emerged from a Japanese chase group of eight to take 3rd in 1:01:46, 10 seconds up on Olympic marathon team alternate Shohei Otsuka (Kyudenko). 

The only member of the Tokyo Olympics men's marathon team to run, Yuma Hattori (Toyota) was pleased with a 1:02:59 for 24th after saying pre-race he planned to run in the 1:04 to 1:05 range. "The course was faster than I expected, so I was able to run faster than planned," he said post-race. "This gave me a lot of confidence." 

The top women said the same thing, saying the course was faster than expected and that it meant speed would be more of an issue at the Olympics than on the original course in Tokyo. The hill at 8 km is early enough that it shouldn't be much of an issue, but the series of sharp turns on narrow paths through Hokkaido University near the end of the main loop and two following short loops could end up being one of the key tactical parts of the Olympic course.

Sapporo Challenge Half Marathon

Tokyo Olympics Marathon Test Event
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 5 May 2021

Women
1. Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) - 1:08:28 - PB
2. Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) - 1:08:32 - PB
3. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) - 1:08:53
4. Katharina Steinruck (Germany) - 1:10:43 - PB
5. Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) - 1:10:50
6. Reia Iwade (Adidas) - 1:10:59
7. Yuri Nozoe (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 1:15:21
8. Miho Shimizu (Hokuren) - 1:15:24
9. Mai Fujisawa (Sapporo Excel AC) - 1:15:57 - PB
-----
DNF - Betsy Saina (Kenya)
DNF - Loh-Choi Dern (Malaysia)

Men
1. Hillary Kipkoech (Kenya) - 1:00:46 - PB
2. Simon Kariuki (Kenya/Togami Denki) - 1:01:11
3. Shin Kimura (Honda) - 1:01:46
4. Daisuke Uekado (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:01:49
5. Shun Yuzawa (SGH Group) - 1:01:51
6. Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:01:55
7. Shohei Otsuka (Kyudenko) - 1:01:56
8. Ryo Matsumoto (Toyota) - 1:02:03
9. Tomohiro Fujimura (Suzuki) - 1:02:12
10. Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki) - 1:02:13
11. Daisuke Hosomori (YKK) - 1:02:17
12. Akira Tomiyasu (Raffine Group) - 1:02:18
13. Bart Van Nunen (Netherlands) - 1:02:18
14. Yuta Shitara (Honda) - 1:02:20
15. Yuki Oshikawa (NTN) - 1:02:22
16. Takayasu Hashizume (SGH Group) - 1:02:31
17. Atsumi Ashiwa (Honda) - 1:02:32
18. Hidekazu Hijikata (Honda) - 1:02:44
19. Chihiro Miyawaki (Toyota) - 1:02:53
20. Yuki Matsumura (Honda) - 1:02:55
21. Ryo Hashimoto (GMO) - 1:02:56
22. Tomoki Yasuda (Kyudenko) - 1:02:57
23. Hirokaze Suzuki (SDF Academy) - 1:02:59
24. Yuma Hattori (Toyota) - 1:02:59
25. Hideto Yamanaka (Honda) - 1:03:02
-----
49. Prabudass Krishnan (Malaysia) - 1:07:00 - NR

Women's 10 km
1. Nanai Okamoto (Nitori) - 34:58

Men's 10 km
1. Fumiya Tsuji (Waseda Univ.) - 30:08

© 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

Stefan said…
Ichiyama Mao is definitely the premier Japanese marathoner heading into the Olympics. If the weather is very hot during the Olympics marathon, I would expect Honami Maeda to do much better in the placings. Both ran to form with half marathon times in line with their recent marathon efforts. Great to see Suzuki Ayuko back running injury free and posting a good time. Mizuki Matsuda consistently proves herself post her MGC race effort. It is such a shame she has missed out on Olympic qualification as her current form indicates she and Ichiyama are the two top marathoners based on recent results. Nice to see Reia Iwada posting a great half marathon time too (just behind Honami Maeda) given her disappointment in the Nagoya marathon in March! I've been following Reia Iwada's Youtube channel so it's nice to see her training paying off at last. Some great times were posted given the windy conditions so it was an impressive showing. It was a great test event. Well done to the organisers.
hi Brett, Thanks for this article. I am thinking of going to watch the women/men's marathon in Sapporo on August 7/8. Any intel on if this is going to be possible at Odori Park or nearby?

Many thanks. I bought you 5 coffees.

Best,

Motozo
Brett Larner said…
Motozo--Both organizers and local government are asking people not to come watch the events in person. Probably best to plan on following them on TV.

Most-Read This Week

Hokkaido's Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. Builds 330 m Greenhouse Indoor Track

Targeting its sixth-straight win at the Oct. 23 Hokkaido Prefecture High School Girls Ekiden, Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. has complete construction of the Asahikawa Ryukoku Indoor Track, at 330 m in length the nation's largest running-specific circuit course entirelyely enclosed in vinyl greenhouse material. The ceremony marking the track's official completion is scheduled for Oct. 28th. In a part of the country known for heavy snowfall, the hope is that Asahikawa Ryukoku's new year-round training ground will help it make the jump to becoming a factor at the national level. The indoor track was built on the 1650 square meter campus of the former Asahikawa Toei H.S., where Asahikawa Ryukoku H.S. will relocate next summer. Coated in durable vinyl, the massive white torus of the track stands out from its surroundings. Ranging from 5.4 m to 7.2 m in width, the track's housing is wide enough to accommodate four lanes. In the future, two lanes will be covered with artificial turf

Kanazawa Marathon to Stop Runners at 21 Locations Due to Election

Due to be held the same day as voting in the upcoming election for the House of Representatives, runners at the Kanazawa Marathon can expect to be stopped at over 20 intersections on the course in order to allow voters on their way to the polls to pass without interference.  Scheduled to be held Oct. 31 after last year's race was canceled, the Kanazawa Marathon will take place while voting polls for the House of Representatives election are open. On race day, road closures for the marathon will be in place for up to 6 hours, but the locations of 14 polling stations on the course mean that voters will need to be able to cross through intersections. 50,000 voters are expected to use these locations, and while city officials are calling for people to utilize early voting or polling stations not affected by road closures then have made the decision to place security personnel at 21 intersections to stop runners when necessary. The Kanazawa Marathon already has this policy in place at

February's Ome 30 km Road Race Canceled Due to Pandemic

On Oct. 14 the organizers of Tokyo's Ome 30 km Road Race announced that the popular event's 55th running, scheduled for Feb. 20, 2022, will not go ahead and will instead be postponed a year. Organizers said that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic they had concerns about being able to stage the event in a way safe for runners, local residents, race staff and volunteers. The Ome 30 km's 55th running was originally scheduled for February, 2021 but was postponed to 2022, meaning the new decision will in effect be a two-year postponement.  The Ome 30 km Road Race was founded in 1967. Starting in the western Tokyo suburb of Ome, the race follows a mountainous route along the upper Tama River gorge and back. Featuring both 30 km and 10 km races, the race seen wins from Olympic gold medalists like Naoko Takahashi  and Mizuki Noguchi , and is one of Japan's most popular races for amateur runners, with over 12,000 finishers every year. In place of the 2022 event, organizers