Kenyans Betsy Saina and Edward Waweru (NTN) took the top spots at the Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon's 72nd edition, winning in 1:09:17 and 1:00:31.
Saina was part of a lead group of six led by Japanese national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) that went through the downhill first 5 km in 16:15, a decent 1:08:34 pace aided by a tailwind. Saina accelerated to 16:00 for the next 5 km, and by the halfway turnaround it was down to just her and Ethiopian Ftaw Zeray with the others forming a chase group led by Sara Hall (U.S.A.).
Saina dropped Zeray on the uphill return trip and sailed on alone into the headwind to take the win in 1:09:17. Overcoming a 22-second deficit at halfway, Kaori Morita (Panasonic) blazed the second half to move up to 2nd with just over 1 km to go, holding on to finish in the runner-up position in 1:10:10. Zeray was 3rd, fading to 1:10:31. Fukushi dropped far off to 7th in 1:13:17, with two-time marathon world champion Edna Kiplagat dropping even further to 12th in 1:13:56.
The men's race saw Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei), the fastest-ever Japanese university man over the half marathon with a 1:00:50 in Marugame in 2014 and the fastest-ever Japanese man on U.S. soil with a 1:00:57 in New York last year, get rough on a field that included world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) and Japanese national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda). Alone in the first few hundred meters, Murayama took advantage of the downhill and tailwind to go through 5 km in 14:00. A chase pack of over 20 led by Shitara and Japan-based Kenyan Edward Waweru (NTN) followed 10 seconds behind.
Waweru and Shitara kicked it up a notch heading to the turnaround, catching Murayama to form a lead trio that went through 10 km in 28:01. Turning into the wind both Murayama and Shitara lost touch with Waweru, who stayed on sub-60 pace through 15 km before struggling to deal with the headwind, uphill and sheer exertion, slowing to finish in 1:00:31 but taking the top spot in a PB by over a minute and a half. Shitara, who will return to the Tokyo Marathon for an attack on the national record later this month, likewise stayed on track for sub-60, barely, through 15 km before fading to land 2nd in 1:01:13.
Just past 15 km Murayama was run down by chase group of 7 that included Tadese, 2017World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and Hakone Ekiden star Dominic Nyairo (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.). Down to 5th at 20 km, Murayama delivered the powerful last kick he shares with his twin brother, 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei), to outkick Ethiopian Bayelign Teshager and WR holder Tadese in the final 100 m for 3rd in 1:01:42. Murayama will run the second marathon of his career a week after Tokyo at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.
Along with Shitara and Murayama, Yohei Suzuki (Aisan Kogyo) and Katanishi both cleared 62 minutes for the first time to pick up likely spots on the Japanese national team for next month's Valencia World Half Marathon Championships.
72nd Kagawa Marugame International Half MarathonMarugame, Kagawa, 2/4/18
click here for complete results
1. Betsy Saina (Kenya) - 1:09:17
2. Kaori Morita (Japan/Panasonic) - 1:10:10
3. Ftaw Zeray (Ethiopia) - 1:10:31
4. Jessica Trengove (Australia) - 1:10:59
5. Do Yeon Kim (South Korea) - 1:11:00
6. Sara Hall (U.S.A.) - 1:11:25
7. Kayoko Fukushi (Japan/Wacoal) - 1:13:17
8. Yomogi Akasaka (Japan/Meijo Univ.) - 1:13:44
9. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) - 1:13:51
10. Suk Jeong Lee (South Korea) - 1:13:52
11. Marie Imada (Japan/Iwatani Sangyo) - 1:13:54
12. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 1:13:56
13. Kasumi Yoshia (Japan/Nitori) - 1:13:58
14. Kumiko Otani (Japan/Imabari Zosen) - 1:14:35
15. Nana Sato (Japan/Starts) - 1:15:01
1. Edward Waweru (Kenya/NTN) - 1:00:31
2. Yuta Shitara (Japan/Honda) - 1:01:13
3. Kenta Murayama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 1:01:42
4. Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) - 1:01:43
5. Bayelign Teshager (Ethiopia) - 1:01:43
6. Dominic Nyairo (Kenya/Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 1:01:46
7. Joel Mwaura (Kenya/Kurosaki Harima) - 1:01:50
8. Wilson Kiprono Too (Kenya) - 1:01:53
9. Yohei Suzuki (Japan/Aisan Kogyo) - 1:01:53
10. Kei Katanishi (Japan/Komazawa Univ.) - 1:01:58
11. Keijiro Mogi (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:27
12. Takashi Ichida (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 1:02:27
13. Koki Takada (Japan/Sumitomo Denko) - 1:02:29
14. Christopher Hamer (Australia) - 1:02:29
15. Ken Nakayama (Japan/Chuo Univ.) - 1:02:30
16. Yuki Sato (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:02:33
17. Daichi Kamino (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:02:35
18. Gen Hachisuka (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:02:39
19. Hidekazu Hijikata (Japan/Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:02:47
20. Atsumi Ashiwa (Japan/Honda) - 1:02:49
21. Shintaro Miwa (Japan/NTN) - 1:02:59
22. Dominic Kiptarus (Kenya) - 1:03:04
23. Natsuki Terada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:03:05
24. Hiroaki Sano (Japan/Honda) - 1:03:09
25. Bernard Kimani (Kenya/Yakult) - 1:03:09
© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved