Skip to main content

Chebitok Crushes Course Record, Mungara Outsmarts Japan's Best at Gold Coast Marathon


For the third year in a row Ausralia's Gold Coast Marathon saw its women's course record fall, with this year's Barcelona Marathon winner Ruth Chebitok of Kenya taking down favorite Agnes Barsosio and local Jessica Trengove for the win in 2:24:49. Consistent and in control despite extremely high humidity, Chebitok kept the race moving just under 2:25 pace the entire way, at times talking to the male pacers to get them to stay on track. 1:12:15 at halfway in a trio with Barsosio and Trengove, Chebitok covered the back half in 1:12:37 for the win, the course record, and a new PB.

Trengove, aiming to go under 2:28 to share in a $40,000 bonus offered by organizers for fast times by Australian athletes, was the first to drop off, but maintaining her speed well she overtook Barsosio almost as soon as the Kenyan faded. Holding on for a 30-second PB, Trengove finished in 2:26:31 to take 2nd and pick up the time bonus. Barsosio was 3rd in 2:27:46, holding off Japan's newly independent Miharu Shimokado who got the next phase of her career off to a good start with a 2:29:38 for 4th.

Following up on her PB at the Ottawa Marathon, defending champ Sara Hall of the U.S.A. led the top five women to new PBs in the half marathon, running a best of 1:09:27 to mark the second-fastest winning time in event history. Australia's Sinead Diver joined her under 1:10 for the first time at 1:09:53 for 2nd, with Aussie-coached American Laura Thweatt 3rd in a PB of 1:10:17. Coached by former men's half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato, Japan's Anna Matsuda ran the second-fastest Japanese women's time of the year with a 1:10:52 PB for 4th. Asian Games Japanese marathon team member Hanae Tanaka was a disappointing 9th in 1:15:19.

The course and Australian all-comers record holder thanks to a 2:08:42 win in 2015, winner again in 2016 in a sprint finish over future Boston Marathon champ Yuki Kawauchi, then outkicked by Japan's Takuya Noguchi in a mirror-image replay last year to take 2nd, 44-year-old Kenyan Kenneth Mungara judged his Japanese competition just right to win yet another sprint finish in 2:09:49 for his third Gold Coast title.

Pacers were tasked with running 3:01~3:02/km, and in an unusual scene they split the task between the two ends of that spectrum, the faster taking the Kenyan trio of Philip Sanga, Victor Kipchirchir and Douglas Chebii out front at 2:08-flat pace and the slower 10 seconds back on track for high-2:08. Sanga soon dropped back, leaving Kipchirchir and Chebii to DNF at their convenience.

With them out of the way, Mungara made an early move to the front, anxious to avoid another sprint finish but tailed by the best kicker in Japan, sub-61 marathoner Kenta Murayama. Noguchi and Kawauchi were unable to follow, Kawauchi dropping behind the lead group and Noguchi hanging near its front. Murayama, who showed no aptitude for the marathon in his first two attempts, kept attacking from 30 to 38 km, surging ahead only to be reeled in by Mungara every time.

The chase group faded into the distance, but after the final turnaround with just over 5 km to go a runner in black started to come into site. Initially it appeared to be defending champ Noguchi, but as he drew closer it turned out to be relatively unknown 2:15 man Jo Fukuda. To their surprise Fukuda caught the lead pair and went to the front just before 40 km, Murayama briefly trying to follow before running smack into the wall and stopping to vomit.

Mungara caught up and, remembering what happened last year when he misjudged an unknown Japanese runner, launched a long surge from 1 km out. Breaking free of Fukuda before the last lefthand turn with just over 300 m to go Mungara began to celebrate, but behind him Murayama was kicking hard to catch him. Murayama went by Fukuda with less than 200 m and bore down on the  man nearly twice his age, but Mungara's experience last year had helped him judge the situation perfectly. All three cleared 2:10, Mungara taking the win in 2:09:49 with Murayama right behind in a PB of 2:09:50 and Fukuda next in 2:09:52, like Murayama his first time under 2:15.


Mungara needs one more Gold Coast win to tie the record of four wins held by Australian great Pat Carroll. Murayama's performance was one just waiting to happen, but Fukuda was the real revelation of the day from the Japanese perspective, proving the truism that, like Noguchi last year, there's always some random 2:11~2:15 guy waiting in the wings to drop a big one.

Noguchi was 4th. Under the rules of Japan's 2020 Olympic trials qualification system he needed to run 2:10:12 to qualify under the two-race sub-2:11 average option, but the clock ticked just over just beyond that as he crossed the line in 2:10:15. And he knew it. He'll now have to run under 2:11:45 sometime before next spring to land a spot in the September, 2019 trials race.

Boston champ Kawauchi finished 9th in 2:14:51, an improvement on his performance at last month's Stockholm Marathon and his 80th career sub-2:20 but far off his goal for the day. "Nobeyama took a lot more out of me than I thought," he said post-race of the 71 km ultra he did at altitude shortly after Boston. "I need to change up my training and refocus for the fall."

40th Gold Coast Marathon

Gold Coast, Australia, 7/1/18
complete results

Women
1. Ruth Chebitok (Kenya) - 2:24:49 - CR, PB
2. Jessica Trengove (Australia) - 2:26:31 - PB
3. Agnes Barsosio (Kenya) - 2:27:46
4. Miharu Shimokado (Japan) - 2:29:38
5. Celia Sullohern (Australia) - 2:30:19
6. Mao Uesugi (Japan) - 2:34:00
7. Ayaka Fujimoto (Japan) - 2:35:51
8. Yukari Abe (Japan) - 2:39:18
9. Momoko Tanaka (Japan) - 2:43:05
10. Alice Mason (New Zealand) - 2:43:47 - PB

Men
1. Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) - 2:09:49
2. Kenta Murayama (Japan) - 2:09:50 - PB
3. Jo Fukuda (Japan) - 2:09:52 - PB
4. Takuya Noguchi (Japan) - 2:10:15
5. Philip Sanga (Kenya) - 2:11:44
6. Ryu Takaku (Japan) - 2:11:45 - PB
7. Michael Githae (Kenya) - 2:12:56
8. Shota Yamazaki (Japan) - 2:13:48
9. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) - 2:14:51
10. Ryo Kuchimachi (Japan) - 2:15:15 - PB
-----
DNF - Douglas Chebii (Kenya)
DNF - Victor Kipchirchir (Kenya)

Women's Half Marathon
1. Sara Hall (U.S.A.) - 1:09:27 - PB
2. Sinead Diver (Australia) - 1:09:53 - PB
3. Laura Thweatt (U.S.A.) - 1:10:17 - PB
4. Anna Matsuda (Japan) - 1:10:52 - PB
5. Ellie Pashley (Australia) - 1:10:57 - PB
6. Misaki Hayashida (Japan) - 1:12:41
7. Rie Fujita (Japan) - 1:13:59
8. Casey Wood (Australia) - 1:14:47
9. Hanae Tanaka (Japan) - 1:15:19
10. Belinda Martin (Australia) - 1:16:35

text and photos © 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

CK said…
If this website
https://arrs.run/SA_Mara.htm
is up to date then Mungara has just reduced the aged 44 world best (previously his own at 2:12:01 by over 2 minutes and now holds aged 41,42,43,44 world bests, all sub 2:10. He turns 45 on 7 September 2018, and the aged 45 world best currently stands at 2:14:16
A story still unfolding ?
Andrew Armiger said…
Cool to see the top 3 Japanese men race so well overseas! Also good to see Shimokado break free and have a good race, perhaps a bit of Kawauchi effect. Kawauchi still has done better post-Boston than other high finishers there. But then that win was more of a level-up than a crowning laurel. Nice PR for Thweatt, too!

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 …