Amateur Japanese club runner Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) and Ugandan Geoffrey Kusuro had dominant wins at the 9th running of the Kobe Marathon Sunday, both running PBs and winning by almost 4 minutes in course record time.
Yamaguchi, who ran a PB 2:33:06 in Sydney in September and dropped a surprise 31:58 at last weekend's East Japan Women's Ekiden, slipped away early, never challenged by the pack of invited African elites or by friend and rival club runner Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto). Going through halfway faster than her half marathon PB in 1:13:08. She slowed slightly in the second half, especially on the large bridge out to the island finish line, but her win was never in doubt as she broke the tape in 2:27:39. Previously, the fastest pure amateur Japanese women's marathon performance was Chihiro Tanaka's 2:29:30 in Nagoya in 2002. Breaking that by almost two minutes, Yamaguchi staked her claim as Japan's best-ever amateur.
2nd through 5th were close together but a distant afterthought. Almost 4 minutes back from Yamaguchi, Sisay Meseret Gola (Ethiopia) was 2nd in 2:31:30 ahead of compatriot Tesfanesh Merga, Kenyan Tesfanesh Merga, and Kaneshige, who took almost a minute and a half off of her PB of 2:33:16 at last month's Chicago Marathon.
Kusuro had a different race than Yamaguchi, running down early frontrunning Kenyan John Loitang, hitting halfway in 1:03:35 side-by-side, and then alone before 25 km. He too struggled on the bridge out to the bay just before the finish, a feature set to disappear with Kobe's planned course change to a downtown finish, but with a gap over Barngetuny and the rest of the field that only grew over the second half of the race he had no trouble hanging on to win in 2:08:46. Barngetuny was next in 2:12:23, over a minute and a half ahead of Japanese 3rd-placer Junichi Tsubouchi (Kurosaki Harima).
9th Kobe MarathonKobe, Hyogo, 11/17/19
1. Haruka Yamaguchi (Japan/AC Kita) - 2:27:39 - CR, PB
2. Sisay Meseret Gola (Ethiopia) - 2:31:30
3. Tesfanesh Merga (Ethiopia) - 2:31:43
4. Mirriam Wangari (Kenya) - 2:31:48
5. Shiho Kaneshige (Japan/GRlab Kanto) - 2:31:56 - PB
1. Geoffrey Kusuro (Uganda) - 2:08:46 - CR, PB
2. Eliud Barngetuny (Kenya) - 2:12:23
3. Junichi Tsubouchi (Japan/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:14:05
4. Kalipus Lomwai (Kenya) - 2:14:09
5. Weldu Negash (Ethiopia) - 2:14:30
photos © 2019 Ryan McDonald, all rights reserved
© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved