Skip to main content

Ndirangu Wins, Robertson Sets NR, Nakamura Makes Olympic Trials in Lake Biwa Debuts



First-timers brought most of the day's best action to the 73rd running of the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Unseasonably hot temperatures meant times were never really in the cards, and a slow opening 10 km left a pack of over 40 together until well into the race. Early casualties included 2:09:31 man Takuya Fukatsu (Asahi Kasei), Keita Shitara (Hitachi Butsuryu) and Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland), but it wasn't until the second half that things started to get complicated.

With the pace staying true to a high-2:07 finish time people fell off the pack in twos and threes after rounding the turnaround point just past halfway, but what made this race unusual was that they kept coming back. 2:07:39 man Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu), 2017 Gold Coast Marathon winner Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta) and last year's Ehime Marathon runner-up Yohei Suzuki (Aisan Kogyo) fell off together, then came back together, then fell off again. European champion Daniele Meucci (Italy) was there, then gone, then back, then gone again, and then coming back in the final kilometers. 2016 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) went through the same cycle. The debuting Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) was one of the last three Japanese men left among the lead pack, then dropped away and was overtaken by the Imai trio, then surged ahead again.

It was way more turnover in position than you'd usually see in a marathon of this caliber, but through it all New Zealand's Jake Robertson, like Nakamura running the marathon for the first time, appeared to be calmly biding his time, waiting until after 31 km to go to the front for the first time in response to a move from Japan's Shinobu Kubota (Toyota). Robertson looked like he had the gears and reserve to run away with it, but like his twin brother Zane in his half marathon debut in Marugame Robertson found himself unexpectedly challenged by a relatively unknown debuting Japan-based Kenyan.

With a 1:00:30 half marathon best to his name, 23-year-old Macharia Ndirangu (Aichi Seiko) attacked hard with 5 km to go. Only Albert Korir (Kenya) was able to follow, Robertson losing ground second by second over the next three kilometers. At 40 km Ndirangu attacked again, dropping Korir and sailing in to take the title in 2:07:53, recording the fastest closing split in the field. Korir was next in a PB of 2:08:17, holding off Robertson whose 2:08:26 debut time took over 30 seconds off the ancient New Zealand national record. Following Yuta Shitara's national record at last weekend's Tokyo Marathon it was the second week in a row that a twin set a national record at one of Japan's major marathons.

In the wake of Robertson's move and Ndirangu's response Kubota slipped off their pace, slowing dramatically as first Meucci, then Nakamura, then Imai, then Noguchi came up from behind. All of them were conscious of where they stood relative to the qualifying standards for the MGC Race, Japan's new 2020 Olympic trials. Sub-2:08:30, or in the top three Japanese and sub-2:11:00, or in the top six Japanese and sub-2:10:00 was what it was going to take. As Nakamura shook Imai off and began to run down stragglers ahead it was clear he was cutting it close, so close that it wasn't obvious until the last 400 m on the track whether he was going to make the 2:11:00 standard. But in the back straight defending champ Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) provided just the stimulus Nakamura needed, Nakamura kicking past him and almost catching Meucci to finish his first marathon in 2:10:51 and make the MGC Race.

Imai was the next Japanese man across the line in 2:11:38, so disappointed and spent that he couldn't talk after the race. Noguchi followed in 2:11:48, both missing MGC Race qualification by less than a minute. No other Japanese men cleared 2:14, a disappointing turn after a reasonable first half with nineteen Japanese men on sub-2:10 pace and especially so when backlit by last Sunday's record-breaking Tokyo Marathon.

Perhaps the biggest loser among the Japanese was two-time defending New Year Ekiden national champion team Asahi Kasei, the most old-school and conservative organization on the circuit. Asahi Kasei had four men on the entry list, 2:08 runner Satoru Sasaki, 2:09 men Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama, and 1:00:50 half marathoner Kenta Murayama. Sasaki was a DNS shortly before the race, Fukatsu a DNF after losing touch with the lead group in the first 10 km, and Murayama and Maruyama both ran PW times over 2:15. The contrast between the success of Yuta Shitara's innovative approach in his national record last weekend and the total failure of the old-fashioned Asahi Kasei approach couldn't have been starker. While last week cast a glow that still shines across the Japanese distance world, with the exception of Nakamura's modest breakthrough this week showed that there is still a long way to go.

73rd Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon

Otsu, Shiga, 3/4/18
click here for complete results and splits

1. Macharia Ndirangu (Kenya/Aichi Seiko) - 2:07:53 - debut
2. Albert Korir (Kenya) - 2:08:17 - PB
3. Jake Robertson (New Zealand) - 2:08:26 - NR, debut
4. Michael Githae (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:09:21 - PB
5. Abera Kuma (Ehtiopia) - 2:09:31
6. Daniele Meucci (Italy) - 2:10:45 - PB
7. Shogo Nakamura (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:10:51 - debut
8. Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) - 2:11:00
9. Masato Imai (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) - 2:11:38
10. Takuya Noguchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:11:48
11. Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:14:38
12. Keisuke Tanaka (Japan/Fujitsu) - 2:14:50
13. Kenya Sonota (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:14:53 - debut
14. Yohei Suzuki (Japan/Aisan Kogyo) - 2:15:16
15. Taku Fujimoto (Japan/Toyota) - 2:15:30 - debut
16. Shuji Matsuo (Japan/Chudenko) - 2:15:41
17. Fumihiro Maruyama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:15:59
18. Ryohei Nishiyama (Japan/Toyota Boshoku) - 2:16:00
19. Samson Gebreyohannes (Eritrea) - 2:16:53
20. Bradley Croker (Australia) - 2:17:28 - PB
21. Kenta Murayama (Japan/Asahi Kasei) - 2:17:43
22. Takuma Kumagai (Japan/Sumitomo Denko) - 2:18:12 - debut
23. Jo Fukuda (Japan/Nishitetsu) - 2:18:16
24. Hidenori Nagai (Japan/DeNA) - 2:18:31
25. Sho Matsumoto (Japan/Nikkei Business) - 2:18:39
26. Keita Shitara (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:18:39 - PB
27. Shota Yamada (Japan/Press Kogyo) - 2:18:59
28. Shinobu Kubota (Japan/Toyota) - 2:19:18
29. Taiga Ito (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:19:47
30. Yoshiki Takenouchi (Japan/NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:20:29
-----
43. Mohammed Zani (Morocco) - 2:23:16
44. Scott Bauhs (U.S.A.) - 2:23:35
51. Wataru Tochigi (Japan/Juntendo Univ.) - 2:24:32 - debut
53. Yuki Matsumura (Japan/Honda) - 2:25:01 - debut
73. Tomoyuki Morita (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:28:46
113. Tadashi Suzuki (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:35:58
-----
DNF - Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland)
DNF - Takuya Fukatsu (Japan/Asahi Kasei)
DNF - Yuta Oikawa (Japan/YKK)

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Hattori Scores First Japanese Win at Fukuoka in 14 Years

Continuing the best year in Japanese men's marathoning history, one that has seen the last generation of Hakone Ekiden talent finally deliver on the brilliance they showed at Hakone in college, former Toyo University leader Yuma Hattori (Toyota) ran 2:07:27 to become the first Japanese man to win the Fukuoka International Marathon since 2004.

In warmer than usual conditions the lead pack ran steadily through 25 km on pace for between 2:07:15 and 2:07:20, perfect for getting as many men as could take it through the rapidly closing qualification window for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials. Early casualties included World Championships medalists Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) and Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eritrea) and Japan's best championships marathoner, Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki). Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), who rebounded from the low point of his career this fall with excellent times in races the last two weekends, was off the back of the pac…

Niiya to Make 10000 m Return at Zatopek:10

All-time Japanese #3 for 10000 m, Hitomi Niiya (Nike Tokyo TC) makes a return to the distance at Australia's Zatopek:10 next week with support from JRN after five years away from the sport. Niiya's history at the distance is short with only four track 10000 m races to her name, but good ones they were, one and all:
31:28.26, 2012 Hyogo Relay Carnival - 1st30:59.19, 2012 London Olympics - 9th31:06.67 MR, 2013 Japanese National Championships - 1st30:56.70, 2013 Moscow World Championships - 5th Following her crushing defeat over the last lap in Moscow after leading the entire race Niiya quit running and everything to do with it. But in the spring this year, now 30, she decided to try to make a comeback in hope of making the 2020 Olympic team in the 10000 m, telling the media, "I still totally hate running, but unfortunately it seems like this is where I belong." 
After three track races from 3000 m to 5000 m between June and October she made a definitive statement of in…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …