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Kikutani 4th in Vienna

Kento Kikutani (Toyota Boshoku) added a bit of drama to the Vienna City Marathon even before the disqualification of its original winner. 9th at February's record-breaking Lake Biwa Marathon in a PB of 2:07:26, Kikutani was the only one of the four Japanese men in Vienna to go with the lead pack. He stayed with them well into the second half before dropping off, but as the lead quartet slowed to set up for the last kick he came back, just making contact with the back of the group before the move came.

Kikutani went into fourth, but with less than 2 km to go he suddenly stopped, walked, and then appeared to stretch out a cramp of other issue.  He dropped back to 5th by the time he made it across the line in 2:10:37, still good enough for the fastest time by a Japanese man overseas since Kenta Murayama's 2:08:56 at the 2019 Berlin Marathon. It was a promising start to the post-Tokyo 2020 continuum.

When initial winner Derara Hurisa (Ethiopia) was disqualified for wearing non-regulation shoes Kikutani was upgraded to 4th, not the win he'd hoped for but a quality showing given the late-race setback. Leonard Langat (Kenya) took the win in 2:09:25, Ethiopian Betesfa Getahun 2nd in 2:09:42 and Kenyan Edwin Kosgei 3rd in 2:10:10 after retaking Kikutani while he walked. Vibian Chepkirui (Kenya) won the women's race in 2:24:29.

With few racing opportunities at home or abroad and few spots available on the starting line of the races that are happening, the other three Japanese men in the race, Yuta Koyama (Toenec), Koki Yoshioka (Chuo Hatsujo) and Daiji Kawai (Toenec), all with bests of 2:08 to 2:10, continued the grand Japanese corporate league tradition of going to international marathons to jog a training run. All three starting off in the second group, Koyama ended up 7th in 2:17:20, Yoshioka 9th in 2:18:09, and Kawai 10th in 2:21:47. Some things will truly never change.

© 2021 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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