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Ruth Chepngetich Repeats in Nagoya With Solo 2:18:08

With temps in the high teens the Nagoya Women's Marathon was warmer than ideal, but that didn't stop the expected protagonists from dominating, and in fast times.

2022 winner Ruth Chepngetich soloed the race the entire way, going ahead of the pacers in the first kilometer and splitting between 16:14 and 16:19 for five of the six 5 km splits up to 30 km. She couldn't quite hold it together enough over the last 10 km to give her 2:17:18 CR from last year a serious go, fading from 1:08:47 at halfway to a 2:18:08 for 1st. But that was still enough for her to win by over a kilometer and take home another $250,000.

The main chase group of over a dozen skimmed just under 17 minutes per 5 km through a 1:11:20 half split before top-ranked Japan woman Ayuko Suzuki took off when the last pacer stopped. Deshun Zhang and Mao Uesugi initially went with her but soon lost touch, leaving Suzuki to drop an impressive 48-second negative split for a 2:21:52 PB, 10 seconds better than her run at last fall's Berlin Marathon in better conditions and an easier course.

The only top-level Japanese woman in the race not to have qualified for October's MGC Race Olympic marathon trials, 2020 Olympic trials winner Honami Maeda held back when Suzuki made her move, then took her time reeling Uesugi and Zhang back in. Maeda also pulled off a negative split by 8 seconds, running a 2:22:32 PB for 3rd and landing her spot at the MGC Race.

Coming to Nagoya with a best of only 2:27:01, Zhang showed nothing but tenacity as she took 4th in 2:24:05, the fastest time by a Chinese woman since 2012. Uesugi, who was 4th at January's Osaka International Women's Marathon in 2:25:18, was 5th here in 2:24:16, practicing up for a planned double at August's Budapest World Championships and the MGC Race on Oct. 15.

7 of the top 11 women ran PBs, surprising given the conditions. Maeda was the only addition to the list of women's qualifiers for the Olympic trials, bringing the total to 29 versus 62 men. Nagoya was the last major qualifying race, leaving remaining hopefuls like Honoka Tanaike, 9th in a PB of 2:27:30, to chase a 2:24:00 or two-race 2:28:00 average at the Tokushima Marathon, Nagano Marathon, or overseas before the May 31 deadline. World Athletics Elite Label and higher races like the May 28 Ottawa Marathon, where at least 7 Japanese men are currently planning to chase last-chance qualification, are bound to be packed with desperate Japanese athletes.

In the accompanying half marathon, club runner Junichi Ushiyama took the win in the men's race in 1:04:52 by 23 seconds over Australian Ben St. Lawrence. Erika Kawamura won the women's race in 1:20:28.

Nagoya Women's Marathon

Nagoya, Aichi, 12 Mar. 2023

1. Ruth Chepngetich (Kenya) - 2:18:08
2. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) - 2:21:52 - PB
3. Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) - 2:22:32 - PB
4. Deshun Zhang (China) - 2:24:05 - PB
5. Mao Uesugi (Starts) - 2:24:16
6. Yuka Suzuki (Daiichi Seimei) - 2:25:46
7. Mirai Waku (Univ. Ent.) - 2:25:58 - PB
8. Zhixuan Li (China) - 2:26:28
9. Honoka Tanaike (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:27:30 - PB
10. Isobel Batt-Doyle (Australia) - 2:27:54 - PB
11. Sakiho Tsutsui (Yamada Holdings) - 2:28:45 - PB
12. Mao Kiyota (Suzuki) - 2:29:20
13. Mizuki Tanimoto (Tenmaya) - 2:29:56
14. Chiharu Ikeda (Hitachi) - 2:30:23
15. Yuri Mitsune (Juhachi Ginko) - 2:31:26 - debut
16. Mayu Nishikawa (Starts) - 2:31:44
17. Sarah Pagano (U.S.A.) - 2:32:05 - PB
18. Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 2:32:09
19. Xinyan Zhang (China) - 2:32:19
20. Kaena Takeyama (Senko) - 2:32:20
21. Mayu Hirata (Wacoal) - 2:32:48 - debut
22. Nana Sato (Starts) - 2:33:15
23. Ayano Ikemitsu (Kagoshima Ginko) - 2:33:29
24. Sarah Klein (Australia) - 2:33:51
25. Ryo Koido (Hitachi) - 2:33:52 - debut
DNF - Nancy Jelagat (Kenya)

photos © 2023 Nagoya Women's Marathon, all rights reserved
text © 2023 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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Kyle S. said…
I'm really glad to see Honami Maeda put together a solid race after struggling so much with injury and illness recently. I hope that she can make it to October healthy enough to compete well at the MGC race. Ayuko Suzuki also looked very impressive with how she handled the second half of the race!
Stefan said…
Ruth Chepngetich was in a class of her own. What an athlete! You could tell she was suffering in the last 10k or so but she still pushed through to post an excellent time. The conditions weren't the best for fast times but I very pleased with the PB times posted by Ayuko Suzuki and Honami Maeda. The October MGC Race is going to be very closely fought and I think a lot will depend on who can turn up to the start line having completed an injury free and productive training block leading into the event.

By the way, I'm a bit unsure as to Mao Uesugi's reasoning for completing the Osaka Marathon then this one so close together. I understand she did it to prepare for the back to back marathons at the World Champs (Budapest) in August and then the MGC race in October. I could be wrong but it sounds like a recipe for disaster or at best, 2 sub peak performances. History will be the judge but I think it is will result in disappoint at the MGC race. That is, should she be able to turn up injury free. 4 marathons in one year for an elite athlete. Even the great Kipchoge limits himself to 2 per year!

By the way, I watched the livestream coverage from the Nagoya Marathon website. I tuned in well before the race start and was surprised to see they were telecasting the MCs preparing beforehand with the make up artists and floor director on screen. They also had vision of the athletes leaving their hotel (Ruth Chepngetich and Honami Maeda) and it looks like all this was screened by mistake as you had the video being paused, rewound then edited! It was like a behind the scenes VIP pass and for me, as a fan, I was so pleased to see how it all comes together. They must have realized this as not long after they went to a screen with the words to the effect, the live broadcast will commence shortly! And when it did begin, you could see the edited pieces being shown properly! The coverage was excellent! Another superb event at Nagoya!

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