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Kenyans On Top, Ozakis 2nd and 3rd in Marugame Half Marathon

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Kenyan runner Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) won the women's race at the 62nd Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon on Feb. 3 in a time of 1:07:57. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) was 2nd in 1:09:30. 14th place finisher in last summer's Osaka World Championships marathon Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) was 3rd in 1:09:58, while veteran runner Harumi Hiroyama (Team Shiseido) was 4th. Ongori commented, "I really wanted to break [Kayoko Fukushi's course record of] 1:07:26." She plans to run a track event in the Beijing Olympics.

Yoshimi Ozaki will also be looking to qualify for the Olympics when she runs her marathon debut at the Nagoya International Women's Marathon in March. She ran Marugame to help her image training for the 2nd half of the full marathon, breaking from the chase pack to pursue Ongori with 5 km to go. "That was completely according to plan. I'm satisfied," said Ozaki. Her coach Sachiko Yamashita discussed Ozaki's marathon plan. "I think not trying to do too much in a debut marathon is the most important thing, but Yoshimi told me that no matter what happens she won't hate the marathon afterwards. She would rather see what she can really do." Thus, her debut marathon will be as a race effort. Ozaki herself offered these strong words: "I will keep the speed I had today and continue working on building my stamina. I'm going to come out hard and will be running in the Olympics."

The men's race was won by Kenyan Alan Jologe (Team Komori Corporation) in 1:01:35, his debut half marathon. Jologe told reporters, "I just came here from Kenya 2 weeks ago and I'm not really comfortable yet, but I ran a good time." Fellow Kenyans Joseph Mwaniki (Team Konica Minolta) and Martin Waweru (Team Fujitsu) were 2nd and 3rd in 1:01:39 and 1:02:02. Ryuji Matsushita (Team Fujitsu) was the top Japanese finisher, 4th in 1:02:14. Matsushita described his feelings about his results, saying, "I wanted to be one of the top finishers, but I'm in training for Biwako [Biwako Mainichi Marathon] in March so as part of that training this was good enough. The main event starts now."

1. Harun Njoroge (Team Komori Corporation): 1:01:35 (debut)
2. Joseph Mwaniki (Team Konica Minolta): 1:01:39 (PB)
3. Martin Waweru (Team Fujitsu): 1:02:02 (debut)
4. Ryuji Matsushita (Team Fujitsu): 1:02:14

1. Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren): 1:07:57 (PB)
2. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei): 1:09:30 (PB)
3. Akemi Ozaki (Team Noritz): 1:09:58
4. Harumi Hiroyama (Team Shiseido): 1:10:09

The IAAF's report on Marugame is here.


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