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Jepchirchir Wins Saitama, Yugeta Breaks Own 60+ WR, Yamaguchi Breaks Own Nara CR - Weekend Marathon Highlights

Two of Japan's main year-ending marathons celebrated anniversary runnings this year, with the Saitama International Marathon holding its 5th edition and the Nara Marathon marking ten years.

Former half marathon world record holder Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya) dropped the competition at 30 km to win in Saitama. Within the first kilometer an all-African lead group had left top Japanese entrants Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) and Kasumi Yoshida (Nitori), and Nina Savina (Belarus) behind. The lead group quickly rounded down to four, Jepchirchir and Ethiopian trio Fatuma Sado, Belaynesh Oljira and Rahma Tusa. #1-ranked Oljira slipped off early in the second half, and when the pacers stopped at 30 km Jepchirchir had no trouble getting rid of Tusa and Sado.

Jepchirchir took 1st in a PB of 2:23:50, with Sado a distant 2nd in 2:26:45. After 35 km Tusa ran into trouble, stopping and stretching out her legs and losing ground first to Oljira, 3rd in 2:27:11, and then Savina, who ran a PB 2:28:44 for 4th. Tusa hung on to 5th in 2:32:30, collapsing as soon as she crossed the finish line, but easily holding off top Japanese woman Kaori Yoshida, 6th in 2:35:15.

Further back, newly-crowned women's 60+ world record holder Mariko Yugeta (Saitama Ogose Ishikawa Genka), 61, ran a PB to break her own world record. After her 2:59:15 at last month's Shimonoseki Kaikyo Marathon, the first-ever sub-3 by a woman 60 years or older, Yugeta told media that at some point she wanted to break her 2:58:05 PB and that, if all went perfectly, she thought she had a shot at 2:57. A month later in Saitama she lived up to her words. Going through halfway perfectly on pace in 1:28:39, Yugeta summoned up a 24-second negative split to finish in 2:56:54. Can 2:55 be far away?

At the Nara Marathon, defending women's champion and course record holder Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) returned from a 5th-place finish in 2:37:29 at last weekend's Singapore Marathon and a 2:27:39 course record and PB at the Kobe Marathon two weeks before that to go for her third Nara title. Running alone the entire way, Yamaguchi went through halfway in 1:17:22 before turning it on with a 1:16:00 second half for the win in 2:33:22. Her time took almost 7 and 1/2 minutes off her 2:40:50 CR from last year and gave her a margin of victory of over 18 minutes. The third-fastest time of her career, Nara was Yamaguchi's fourth win and seventh top five finish in her nine marathons this year.

Yamaguchi's friend and rival Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto) was 1st in the 10 km, running a CR and road 10 km PB of 33:32 wearing a deer headpiece a week after winning the Minato City Half Marathon in a PB and CR of 1:13:30. Taro Fukushima (Daiwa Seiki) also set a new men's 10 km CR in 29:47.

The men's marathon in Nara was closer than the women's, if relatively slower. A trio made up of former corporate leaguer Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Nara T&F Assoc.) and university men Koki Yamada (Doshisha Univ.) and Tatsuki Sato (Nara Gakuen Univ.) stayed together until almost 30 km before Yamamoto turned it on, dropping the two collegians with ease and opening a lead of over 4 minutes to win in 2:21:22. Yamada was next in 2:25:25, with Sato dropping to 4th after getting run down by Takuya Kondo (Ritsumeikan Univ.) in the final kilometer.

Functionally if not geographically another of Japan's main year-end marathons, the Honolulu Marathon saw men's national record holder Suguru Osako (ex-Nike Oregon Project) take 6th in 2:17:30 in an apparent workout effort, with Takuya Fukatsu (Asahi Kasei) next in 2:19:01 just two weeks after a 2nd-place finish at the Ohtwara Marathon. Former corporate leaguers Miharu Shimokado (Brooks) and Kaoru Nagao (Sunnyfield) were 4th and 5th in the women's race in 2:45:24 and 2:53:01.

5th Saitama International Marathon

Saitama, 12/8/19
complete results

1. Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya) - 2:23:50 - PB
2. Fatuma Sado (Ethiopia) - 2:26:45
3. Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia) - 2:27:11
4. Nina Savina (Belarus) - 2:28:44 - PB
5. Rahma Tusa (Ethiopia) - 2:32:30
6. Kaori Yoshida (Japan/Team RxL) - 2:35:15
7. Kasumi Yoshida (Nitori) - 2:38:39
8. Paskalia Chepkorir (Kenya) - 2:39:16
9. Yuki Mizuseda (Chiba T&F Assoc.) - 2:40:47 - PB
10. Yurino Yokoyama (unattached) - 2:50:50
13. Mariko Yugeta (Saitama Ogose Ishikawa Genka) - 2:56:54 - 60+ WR, PB
DNF - Zinash Debebe (Ethiopia)

10th Nara Marathon

Nara, 12/8/19
complete results

1. Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) - 2:33:22 - CR
2. Moeka Toge (Osaka Geijutsu Univ.) - 2:51:40
3. Chizuru Oi (Nara-X Athletes) - 2:51:51

1. Yoshihiro Yamamoto (Nara T&F Assoc.) - 2:21:22
2. Koki Yamada (Doshisha Univ.) - 2:25:25
3. Takuya Kondo (Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 2:25:58

Women's 10 km
1. Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto) - 33:32 - CR

Men's 10 km
1. Taro Fukushima (Daiwa Seiki) - 29:47 - CR

Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu, U.S.A., 12/8/19
complete results

1. Titus Eriku (Kenya) - 2:08:00 - CR
2. Wilson Chebet (Kenya) - 2:13:14
3. Edwin Kipngetich Koech (Kenya) - 2:14:20
6. Suguru Osako (Japan) - 2:17:30
7. Takuya Fukatsu (Japan) - 2:19:01

1. Margaret Muriuki (Kenya) - 2:31:11
2. Betsy Saina (Kenya) - 2:31:52
3. Renee Metivier (U.S.A.) - 2:43:18
4. Miharu Shimokado (Japan) - 2:45:24
5. Kaoru Nagao (Japan) - 2:53:01

photo © 2019 Akko, all rights reserved
text © 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Metts said…
Recently, many have been waiting for JB, in the US, to break the three hour barrier But she hasn't done it yet. Whatever it is; environment,proper training, genetics, mindset, Yugeta is doing something right. Just like in 2008, when another Japanese broke the 60+ male record. Something about running in Japan, or at least I like to think so. The magic shoes too? But its still about the person, not just the shoes. And or we can say, in the same way, Yoshida, is doing something right recently, like a few other amateurs, and lower level pros, in Japan, in years past.
TokyoRacer said…
Deer headpiece? Oh, I get it, it's Nara, deer capital of Japan.

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