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Robinson and Johannes Front Five National Records at Marugame Half

At least six runners broke five national records at today's fast and deep Marugame Half Marathon. The ambitious Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) kicked off the women's race by taking a swing at the 1:06:38 Japanese women's national record set two weeks ago in Houston by Hitomi Niiya (Sekisui Kagaku), with Namibian national record holder Helalia Johannes close behind. Ichiyama dropped off after the turnaround near 10 km, leaving Johannes to run on alone to a new record of 1:08:10, 2:20 under the record she set just last April.

Ichiyama faded to 5th in 1:08:56, run down by 2019 Sanyo Ladies Half winner Charlotte Purdue, South Korean Kyun Sun Choi, and Australian Sinead Diver on the return trip. Purdue took 2nd in 1:08:23, with Choi close behind in a national record 1:08:35 for 3rd over Diver, 2:39 off the 2009-era South Korean record. Succeeding where Ichyama fell short, Andrea Seccafien took 3 seconds off the Canadian national record set in Houston by Natasha Wodak, finishing 6th in a new record of 1:09:38.

Japanese men's national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) and twin brother Keita Shitara (Hitachi Butsuryu) took the men's race out fast through 5 km in 14:12, pace for a 59:55 national record. Past winner Callum Hawkins (Great Britain), former Nihon University star Patrick Mathenge Wambui (NTT Nishi Nihon) and two-time sub-61 man Masato Kikuchi (Konica Minolta) all took turns up front as the pace stayed hot with a 28:27 10 km split and around 20 men in tow.

After the turnaround Hawkins pushed his way to the front, Brett Robinson (Australia), Kelvin Kiptum Cheruiyot (Kenya), 2:07:57 marathoner Taku Fujimoto (Toyota) and 2015 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Yusuke Ogura (Yakult) the only ones able to follow Hawkins' attack. After a 42:38 split at 15 km Cheruiyot lost touch, leaving just four up front. Hawkins did all the work until a corner near 18 km where Robinson surged to open a lead. Fujimoto followed, but by 19 km Robinson had a lead that carried him all the way to a 59:57 Australian national record for the win.

Behind him Fujimoto pushed hard on track to become the first Japanese man to break the hour barrier, with Hawkins and Ogura each on their own behind him. Hawkins managed to find what he needed to overtake Fujimoto at 20 km. The order in the top four looked settled, but as they headed onto the track for the final 200 m Ogura seemed to come from out of nowhere, running down Fujimoto and then Hawkins to take 2nd in a new Japanese national record of 1:00:00. Hawkins was right behind in 3rd in 1:00:01, holding his head in his hands at missing the sub-hour mark when he saw his time.

Fujimoto was 4th in 1:00:06, also under Shitara's previous national record of 1:00:17. Both Kikuchi and Shitara cleared 61 minutes, Kikuchi becoming the first Japanese man to do it three times in his career and Shitara the third to do it twice. Post-race Ogura, a former star runner at Aoyama Gakuin University during the years of its initial rise to Hakone Ekiden power but largely drawing a blank in the corporate leagues, seemed as surprised as anyone at having broken Shitara's record and just missing out on the win, saying he had only run Marugame as a training run for the Tokyo Marathon. It's hard to see him competing with the big three of Shitara, Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) and Suguru Osako (Nike) there, but with a new national record to back Ogura up Tokyo just got that much more exciting.

Overall this year's Marugame crushed records for depth at quality. 33 men went under 62 minutes, bettering the previous record of 28, 62 went sub-63 versus the former record of 49, and 83 were under 64 minutes against the previous record of 76. Somewhat enigmatically, Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), the previous lowest-placing sub-64 half-marathoner ever at 76th in 1:03:57 in Marugame 2012, was the lowest-placing man under 65 minutes today at 102nd in 1:04:58. If Ken Young of the ARRS were still alive to see the sport today you have to wonder what he'd make of it all.

74th Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon

Marugame, Kagawa, 2/2/20
complete results

1. Helalia Johannes (Namibia) - 1:08:10 - NR
2. Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain) - 1:08:23
3. Kyun Sun Choi (South Korea) - 1:08:35 - NR
4. Sinead Diver (Australia) - 1:08:50
5. Mao Ichiyama (Japan/Wacoal) - 1:08:56
6. Andrea Seccafien (Canada) - 1:09:38 - NR
7. Ellie Pashley (Australia) - 1:10:35
8. Rui Aoyama (Japan/Universal Entertainment) - 1:11:36
9. Ako Matsumoto (Japan/Denso) - 1:11:45
10. Reia Iwade (Japan/Under Armour) - 1:12:13
11. Ayano Ikeuchi (Japan/Denso) - 1:12:44
12. Eri Utsunomiya (Japan/Japan Post) - 1:13:18
13. Kumiko Otani (Japan/Imabari Zosen) - 1:13:57
14. Shiori Morita (Japan/Panasonic) - 1:14:30
15. Honoka Sugiura (Japan/Chukyo University) - 1:14:39

1. Brett Robinson (Australia) - 59:57 - NR
2. Yusuke Ogura (Japan/Yakult) - 1:00:00 - NR
3. Callum Hawkins (Great Britain) - 1:00:01
4. Taku Fujimoto (Japan/Toyota) - 1:00:06 (NR)
5. Masato Kikuchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 1:00:43
6. Yuta Shitara (Japan/Honda) - 1:00:49
7. Ezrah Kipketer Tanui (Kenya) - 1:00:57
8. Kelvin Kiptum Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 1:00:57
9. Patrrick Mathenge Wambui (Kenya/NTT Nishi Nihon) - 1:01:03
10. Yuki Sato (Japan/Nissin Shokuhin) - 1:01:06
11. Shohei Otsuka (Japan/Kyudenko) - 1:01:09
12. Shoya Kawase (Japan/Kogakkan Univ.) - 1:01:18
13. Ryu Takaku (Japan/Yakult) - 1:01:30
14. Yuta Aoki (Japan/Koku Gakuin Univ.) - 1:01:32
15. Naoki Okamoto (Japan/Chugoku Denryoku) - 1:01:34
16. Ryosuke Maki (Japan/Subaru) - 1:01:35
17. Yohei Ikeda (Japan/Nittai Univ.) - 1:01:36
18. Daisuke Uekado (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku) - 1:01:37
19. Taiyo Iwasaki (Japan/Jobu Univ.) - 1:01:40
20. Keita Shitara (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) - 1:01:43
21. Taisei Hashizume (Japan/SGH Group) - 1:01:46
22. Tadashi Isshiki (Japan/GMO) - 1:01:50
23. Yuta Shimoda (Japan/GMO) - 1:01:52
24. Yusei Tsutsumi (Japan/JFE Steel) - 1:01:53
25. Kengo Suzuki (Japan/Fujitsu) - 1:01:53

© 2020 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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