Going ahead where every other race its level has canceled or postponed, the Nagoya Women's Marathon went off as planned with an elite race, mass-participation field of 5,000, and 9,000 more in the accompanying half marathon. Strong winds reported as high as 14 m/s along the course held back the kind of times organizers had hoped for, but that didn't stop 2020 Osaka International Women's Marathon winner Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) from taking a serious swing at the women-only national record of 2:20:29 set in Nagoya last year by Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal).
Matsuda, 25 km national record co-holder Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku), 2:24:52 runner Mao Uesugi (Starts) and debuting Ikumi Fukura (Otsuka Seiyaku) were the only ones to go out with a quartet of pacers on sub-2:20 pace. By 13 km that was down to only one pacer, half marathon great Rosemary Wanjiru (Starts), and just after hitting halfway in 1:10:23 only Wanjiru and Matsuda were left.
Matsuda stuck with Wanjiru until the pacer stepped off at 30 km, but while she tried to match Ichiyama's closing speed her time drifted slower and slower as she battled the winds. Bearing down in the home straight to the indoor finish she crossed the line in 2:21:51, just 4 seconds off her best from Osaka last year, gutted, weeping and apologizing on-camera for not having run faster. Her coach Miwako Yamanaka, 4th placer at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships, said post-race, "I know she was really focused on time, but this morning when I saw the conditions I told her that today was about the win, not time. I give her a 100%." Matsuda countered, "She's being too generous."
Completely alone for the last 20 km of the race, Sato held on for 2nd in 2:24:32, just over a minute off her debut last year but a quality time given the wind. The debuting Natsumi Matsushita (Tenmaya) came up from the 2nd pack to narrowly take 3rd in 2:26:26 with the next three finishers all within 30 seconds of her. Despite the conditions three other first-timers besides Matsushita made it under 2:30, and six women inside the top 25 ran PBs. Tokyo Olympic team alternate Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) was only 18th in 2:32:03, with Rio Olympian Mai Ito (Otsuka Seiyaku) 25th in 2:38:07 and London World Championships team member Mao Kiyota (Suzuki) 26th in 2:38:47.
Further back, women's 60+ world record holder Mariko Yugeta (Saitama OIG) likewise struggled with the wind, coming up short of her goal of breaking her own record of 2:52:13 from Osaka in January but adding another sub-3 to her resume with a time of 2:54:31 for 70th overall in her 110th marathon finish.
And behind her, thousands more women did what millions of others worldwide can still only dream of doing, crossing the finish line of a major marathon run through the downtown streets of a big city. Barring any resulting spike in infection numbers later this month, Nagoya was a beacon of hope that this fall will see all those who could only watch from a distance this time get their chances on the streets of Boston, London, Tokyo, and the world's other major cities.
The best thing I’ve seen in a year. I’m ready. https://t.co/3zFzEDt9t9— AJ 🦦 (@alyssa_jayne) March 14, 2021
Nagoya Women's Marathon
and Nagoya City Half Marathon
Nagoya, Aichi, 14 Mar. 2021
1. Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) - 2:21:51
2. Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku) - 2:24:32
3. Natsumi Matsushita (Tenmaya) - 2:26:26 - debut
4. Mirai Waku (Universal Entertainment) - 2:26:30 - PB
5. Hanae Tanaka (Shiseido) - 2:26:49
6. Yomogi Akasaka (Starts) - 2:26:51 - PB
7. Mao Uesugi (Starts) - 2:27:03
8. Misaki Kato (Kyudenko) - 2:27:20 - PB
9. Chiharu Ikeda (Hitachi) - 2:27:39 - PB
10. Ikumi Fukura (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:28:31 - debut
11. Natsuki Omori (Daihatsu) - 2:28:38 - PB
12. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) - 2:28:40 - debut
13. Yuma Adachi (Kyocera) - 2:29:00 - debut
14. Reno Okura (Noritz) - 2:30:17 - debut
15. Saki Fukui (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:30:31 - debut
16. Reia Iwade (Adidas) - 2:30:35
17. Rie Kawauchi (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:31:34 - PB
18. Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) - 2:32:03
19. Ayano Ikeuchi (Denso) - 2:33:29 - debut
20. Ai Ikemoto (SWAC) - 2:34:33 - debut
21. Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) - 2:35:02
22. Yuka Gito (Higo Ginko) - 2:35:04 - debut
23. Miharu Shimokado (SID Group) - 2:35:44
24. Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) - 2:37:04
25. Mai Ito (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:38:07
26. Mao Kiyota (Suzuki) - 2:38:47
27. Eri Utsunomiya (Japan Post) - 2:39:40 - PB
28. Mai Fujisawa (Sapporo Excel AC) - 2:39:48 - PB
29. Kaoru Nagao (Sunfield AC) - 2:41:03
30. Yoshiko Sakamoto (F.O.R.) - 2:42:57
70. Mariko Yugeta (Saitama OIG) - 2:54:31
Women's Half Marathon
1. Rina Goto - 1:26:05
Men's Half Marathon
1. Hajime Sakai - 1:05:59
© 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved