Ruth Chepngetich 2:17:18 to Win Nagoya Women's Marathon and $250,000, 63-Year-Old Yugeta Goes Sub-3 Again
2019 world champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya ran solo almost the entire way to win the biggest women-only marathon in the world and biggest 1st-place prize money in the sport at Sunday's Nagoya Women's Marathon, her 2:17:18 winning time a new course record, the 2nd-fastest ever in a women-only marathon, 2nd-fastest ever in Japan, and 2nd-fastest of her career.
The lead group's pace was set at 3:20/km, 2:20:39, ideal for Japanese debut marathon NR holder Yuka Ando (Suzuki) but not to Chepngetich's taste. After a 16:34 opening 5 km she went ahead of the pacer into the lead alone, staying there until 30 km. In a chase trio with the pacer were Ando, 2:17 runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel, and ambitious 2:26 runner Ai Hosoda (Edion). The pacer was first to drop from the chase group, with Hosoda losing touch before 20 km.
At that point Chepngetich's lead was up to 49 seconds, but in the second half Salpeter began to run her down. Ando couldn't stay with Salpeter, but to be fair with a 15:59 from 20 to 25 km not many people could have. A 16:03 from 25 to 30 km brought Salpeter within 4 seconds of Chepngetich, and within a few hundred meters she closed down the gap. But with $250,000 on the line for the winner Chepngetich didn't let it go.
Counterattacking over the hilliest section of the course Chepngetich dropped at 16:03 5 km split of her own to re-open a 9-second lead over Salpeter. A 16:05 from 35 to 40 km was enough to break Salpeter, and Chepngetich closed hard in 6:56 to take the win and massive prize in 2:17:18. Salpeter cruised in to 2nd in 2:18:45, also under the old CR. Both women recorded negative splits, Chepngetich going 1:09:03/1:08:15 and Salpeter 1:09:47/1:08:58.
Once on her own Ando struggled to keep it together. Setting new women-only NR for 25 km and 30 km, at one point her projected finish time was within seconds of Mizuki Noguchi's 2:19:12 NR. But as that slipped away Ando could only watch as the other targets went by: sub-2:20, the 2:20:29 women-only NR, sub-2:21, the 2:21:17 line for probable first-round selection to the Oregon World Championships team, her 2:21:46 PB from her debut, and then sub-2:22. In the end she was 3rd in 2:22:22, totally spent when she crossed the finish line. Hosoya was just over 2 minutes behind in 4th in 2:24:26, a PB by over 2 minutes.
2019 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Yuka Suzuki (Daito Bunka Univ.) made a bold move early in the 2nd half to break away from the 2:24 pack in her debut, running down Australia's Sinead Diver late in the race to take 5th in 2:25:02, more than a minute under the collegiate marathon record. Australian Eloise Wellings was next in a PB of 2:25:10, with Ikumi Fukura (Otsuka Seiyaku) and Kotona Ota (Japan Post) 7th and 8th, Fukura in a PB 2:25:15 and Ota debuting in 2:25:56. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) and Chiharu Ikeda (Hitachi) rounded out the top 10 with PBs of 2:26:23 and 2:26:50.
Further back in the field, a week after running 3:04:16 at the Tokyo Marathon, the fastest-ever by a 63-year-old, 60+ world record holder Mariko Yugeta bettered that with a 2:58:40 to push the age range for a sub-3 even further. After having had injury problems over the winter that kept her out of the Osaka International Women's Marathon in January, Yugeta ran Tokyo and Nagoya as fitness tests for April's Boston Marathon, where she'll be running with support from JRN. Safe to say that based on these two runs her fitness is good.
All the Japanese women through Takemoto qualified for the 2024 Olympic trials, with 11th-place Reia Iwade (Adidas) and 13th-place Rie Kawauchi (Otsuka Seiyaku) also making the cut by having a two-race average under 2:28. 12th-place Mirai Waku (Univ. Ent.) looks to have made it as well by making the top 8 in the JMC rankings, assuming no other Japanese women run a fast time in Rome or elsewhere overseas this month. Only 10th-place Chiharu Ikeda (Hitachi), the 7th-place Japanese woman, was left out, but with a 2:26:50 today she only has to run 2:29:10 or better within the next year to get in the same way as Iwade and Kawauchi. The additions bring the number of female qualifiers to 18, three more than for the 2020 trials with a year still to go in the qualifying window.
In the nearer future, the top Japanese women at last week's Tokyo Marathon and January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) and Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu), are sure to be picked for the Oregon team. The third spot looks like a choice between Ando and Tokyo's 2nd Japanese woman Hitomi Niiya (Sekisui Kagaku), 2:21:17 there, with Ando having been 7 seconds faster than Osaka's 2nd Japanese woman Mao Uesugi (Starts). The top Japanese woman in a women-only race in 2:22:22 and 5:04 off the winner, or the second Japanese woman who ran her entire race in the middle of a pack of men in 2:21:17, 5:15 off the winner. A tough choice on paper, but with Niiya saying she won't do another marathon Ando is the likelier pick.
Last year Nagoya was the first major Japanese race to take a step forward on the road to a return to racing, with an elite field, a mass-participation field of around 5,000, and thousands more in its accompanying half marathon. Case numbers are still high in Japan, but while it wasn't up to full-size Nagoya was a step up from last year, having had internationals in its elite field, almost 8,700 women in the marathon, over 7,300 in the half marathon, won by Junichi Ushiyama in 1:05:12 and the 10 km, won by 100 km world record holder Nao Kazami (Aisan Kogyo), and 10 in its wheelchair race. Leading the way in just about every way, this year the Nagoya Women's Marathon cemented its place as one of the very top marathons on the global calendar. Let's hope another year sees it back up to full strength.
Nagoya Women's Marathon
Nagoya, Aichi, 13 Mar. 2022
1. Ruth Chepngetich (Kenya) - 2:17:18 - CR
2. Lonah Chemtai Salpeter (Israel) - 2:18:45
3. Yuka Ando (Suzuki) - 2:22:22
4. Ai Hosoda (Edion) - 2:24:26 - PB
5. Yuka Suzuki (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 2:25:02 - Univ. NR, debut
6. Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 2:25:10 - PB
7. Ikumi Fukura (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:25:15 - PB
8. Kotona Ota (Japan Post) - 2:25:56 - debut
9. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) - 2:26:23 - PB
10. Chiharu Ikeda (Hitachi) - 2:26:50 - PB
11. Reia Iwade (Adidas) - 2:27:03
12. Mirai Waku (Univ. Ent.) - 2:27:16
13. Rie Kawauchi (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:27:52
14. Yuma Adachi (Kyocera) - 2:28:28 - PB
15. Hikari Onishi (Japan Post) - 2:28:56 - debut
16. Hanae Tanaka (Daiichi Seimei) - 2:30:01
17. Anna Matsuda (Denso) - 2:30:19
18. Nana Sato (Starts) - 2:30:24 - PB
19. Momoko Watanabe (Tenmaya) - 2:30:42 - debut
20. Mayu Nishikawa (Starts) - 2:31:32 - debut
21. Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) - 2:31:35
22. Saki Fukui (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:31:53
23. Yuko Kikuchi (Hokuren) - 2:32:08 - debut
24. Ayano Ikemitsu (Kagoshima Ginko) - 2:32:38
25. Yuka Gito (Higo Ginko) - 2:33:45 - PB
26. Mao Kiyota (Suzuki) - 2:34:04
27. Tomomi Sawahata (Sawahatters) - 2:34:46 - PB
28. Asuka Yamamoto (Edion) - 2:34:48
29. Kaena Takeyama (Daihatsu) - 2:35:23 - debut
30. Ayumi Morita (Senko) - 2:38:01 - debut
74. Mariko Yugeta (Ogose Ishikawa Ganka) - 2:58:40 - age 63 WR
DNF - Sinead Diver (Australia)
Nagoya Half Marathon
Nagoya, Aichi, 13 Mar. 2022
1. Junichi Ushiyama - 1:05:12
1. Erika Kawamura - 1:20:35
Men's 10 km
1. Nao Kazami (Aisan Kogyo) - 31:09
Women's 10 km
1. Nanoka Tomita - 36:26
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