18 November 2012 - Lydia Cheromei, the fastest runner in the field with the personal best of 2:21:30, won the 4th edition of Yokohama Women’s Marathon with the new course record time of 2:23:07 on Sunday.
It was nearly a 50-second improvement on the previous course record of this IAAF Silver Label Road Race of 2:23:56 set in 2011 by Yoshimi Ozaki, the 2009 World Championships Marathon silver medallist.
Cheromei broke away from the lead pack early, at 15Km, and covered the next 5Km in 16:25. She then ran the rest of the race completely alone, and won by more than three and half minutes. The time could have been faster if the day was less windy. Had she ran 2:21:30 or faster, she would have set an age group record for 35-year-olds.
“I am very happy to win the Yokohama marathon, the race was tough but I managed to win,” said Cheromei whose top five Marathon average is now a respectable 2:23:14.
Thirty-two year old Mizuho Nasukawa, who surged after 40Km and left behind Marisa Barros and Mai Ito, was second with 2:26:42. More importantly, she was the first Japanese in the race. Because Nasukawa failed to break 2:23:59, she was not selected automatically to the World Championships Marathon team, but with five slots on the team still up for grabs and only two more World Championships qualifying races – Osaka and Nagoya – left in the calendar, chances are very good that Nasukawa will be selected. “I was not concerned about the time. I concentrated on being the first Japanese,” said Nasukawa, who has been coached by legendary Yoshio Koide, coach of 2000 Olympic Champion Naoko Takahashi.
Two runners who are endowed with exceptional speed, Kim Smith and Jo Pavey, failed to fulfill their Marathon potential. Smith, a 1:07 Half Marathon runner, again failed to improve her Marathon personal best which was set back in her marathon debut in 2010, while Pavey, who was seventh at 10,000m in the Olympic Games, lost contact with the leaders before 10Km, and eventually dropped out.
After Cheromei’s break, the top Japanese ran for the top domestic finish, tactics that brought criticism. Besides Nasukawa, in general Japanese performances were disappointing. Remi Nakazato, heir apparent to 2000 Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi, dropped out, while Mai Ito was only fifth and Yukiko Akaba eighth.
How the race unfolded:
Eighteen runners, including three pace makers passed the 5Km checkpoint in 16:55, the pace asked for by organisers. After 8 kilometres Serena Burla, Amy Hasting and Pavey started to drift back. The pace remained steady as 15 runners covered 10Km in 33:56. The course turned around at 12.8Km and the wind was now mostly against the runners, but Cheromei forged on. After passing 15Km in 51:00, at which point one of the pace makers dropped out, Cheromei took over the lead and started to break away from the lead pack, including two pace makers still in the race.
The next Km was covered in 3:19. Around 18Km Remi Nakazato, one of the favourites to make the Japanese World Championships team, began to lose contact with the chase pack which included most of the contenders. Meanwhile Cheromei covered 15 to 20Km in 16:25 and was running completely alone in front, more than 40 seconds ahead of the chase pack. Approaching 23Km, Yukiko Akaba, another favourite for the Japanese squad, also started to drift back.
At 24Km the final pace maker dropped out, leaving Kim Smith, Maria Barros, Mai Ito and Mizuho Nasukawa in the chase pack behind Cheromei who passed 25Km in 1:24:23 (slowed by a head wind) while the four-woman chase pack led mostly by Smith was more than a minute behind. Nearing 29Km, Barros was left behind but would came back to rejoin the chase pack later.
Cheromei passed 30Km in 1:41:19,by then more than a minute and half ahead of Smith, Ito and Nasukawa. As Cheromei passed 35Km in 1:58:13, Barros rejoined the chasers. Ito was the first to surge in her attempt to break away but was unable to shake the pack. Barros also tried to break away but without success. Then it was Nasukawa’s turn to surge. Barros and Ito stayed close but Smith was left behind. Then just before 40Km Nasukawa surged again to leave her competitions behind and finish second.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Leading Results –
Weather: Sunny; temperature: 16C; humidity 41%; wind: 4.3m/s North North East
Results: (JPN unless otherwise noted)
1. Lydia Cheromei (KEN) 2:23:07, course record
2. Mizuho Nasukawa (JPN) 2:26:42
3. Marisa Barros (POR) 2:26:51
4. Jelena Prokopcuka (LAT) 2:26:55 fastest 4th in Yokohama
5. Mai Ito (JPN) 2:27:06 fastest 5th in Yokohama
6. Kim Smith (NZL) 2:27:35 fastest 6th in Yokohama
7. Mayumi Fujita (JPN) 2:29:02 fastest 7th in Yokohama
8. Yukiko Akaba (JPN) 2:31:43
9. Eri Hayakawa (JPN) 2:33:21
10. Hiroko Miyauchi (JPN) 2:33:21
5Km - 16:55
10Km - 33:56 (17:01)
15Km - 51:00 (17:04)
20Km - 1:07:25 (16:25)
Half - 1:11:08
25Km - 1:24:23 (16:58)
30Km - 1:41:19 (16:56)
35Km - 1:58:13 (16:54)
40Km - 2:15:35 (17:17)
Finish - 2:23:07 (7:32)