Running in dismal conditions, Masakazu Fujiwara of Japan and Alevtina Biktimirova of Russia won their respective titles at the 4th edition of the Tokyo Marathon today.
The Tokyo Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Fujiwara, the Japanese marathon debut record holder, clocked 2:12:19 to become the first Japanese male runner to win here. “Because it was so cold, I knew I cannot run fast time. So I concentrated on winning the race,” Fujiwara said.
Biktimirova won the women’s race comfortably in 2:34:39. “Before the race, I was hoping to improve my personal best and that’s why I went out fast. However, because of the weather, I had to give up that goal and go after the win only.”
Cold rain and wind hampered the race throughout and in fact worsened as the race progressed, killing any ambitions for fast performances. The start time temperature was 7 C, but the mercury continued to drop. Arata Fujiwara, who was second in the men’s race in 2008 finished second again, outkicking Atsushi Sato. Sato, one of the pre-race favorite, finished third. Robe Guta was second in the women’s race in 2:36:29, nearly two minutes behind the winner.
How the races unfolded -
A huge pack of more than 40 passed the first kilometre in just over three minutes. The first 5K, which is mostly downhill, was covered in 15:11 - not very fast for downhill – and the pace slowed even more in the middle of the race. From 15K to 30K the 5K splits barely dipped below 16 minutes. Despite the slow pace, Julius Gitahi, Shigeru Aburaya and Andrey Sokolov fell behind the pace early.
As the leaders passed half marathon point in 1:05:13, the race turned into a one of attrition. At 27K, the lead pack was slimmed down to 24. A kilometre later, Akinori Shibutani surged to move significantly to the front but was soon absorbed by the chase pack. Soon the chase pack led by Salim Kipsang, the defending champion and co-favorite Atsushi Sato, began to stretch out. At about 31.5K, Kipsang made a move to break away and opened a significant gap.
However, the chase pack led by Fujiwara worked their way up to the Kipsang’s shoulder. At the same time, Rachid Kisri, the fastest runner in the field, started to fall behind, reducing the lead pack to eight. Intending to break up the lead pack, Fujiwara surged at 33K to open the gap on Kipsang and Sato. The pace stayed slow, however, and soon Kisri re-joined the leaders. With the runners approaching Tokyo Bay, the wind began to pick up. Although runners took turn in front, it was Kenyan Joseph Mwaniki who did much of the leading. Then Fujiwara threw off his baseball cap and surged hard at 40Km to open a significant gap. Sato tried to stay close, but Kipsang and Kisri seemed to be out of it.
Although he didn’t look very comfortable, Fujiwara continued to pull ahead of Sato and Arata Fujiwara. By 41Km, he was some 30m ahead of the last remaining challengers and continued to pull away. Arata Fujiwara outkicked Sato to finish second.
“I surged with intent of breaking the lead pack at 33Km,” the winner said. “Then I went to the back of the pack, which was also planned.” Fujiwara’s marathon debut was a sensational one, clocking 2:08:12 at 2003 Lake Biwa Marathon. However, after he joined the Honda track team, by his own admission, he trained too hard and became plagued with injuries. He ran only one other marathon, again at Lake Biwa in 2008, where he was ninth with 2:12:07.
The lead group of nine which included most of the invited runners, covered the first 5K in 17:34, before reaching the 10Kmarker in 34:56. By 15K (52:04), Bikitimirova broke away from the lead pack and continued to extend her lead through the 35th kilometre. Although the Russian slowed after 35K, she was so far ahead that her victory was sealed.
After losing contact with Bikitimirova, Mizuho Nasukawa, Robe Guta and Julia Mumbi formed the second group. At 25Km, Akemi Ozaki passed all three to move into second position. However, later Ozaki was reduced to a walk and Guta and Olaru began to contend for the second place. Guta moved ahead of Olaru by 35Km and finished second in 2:36:29, 13 seconds ahead of Olaru. Unheralded Maki Kono covered the 35 to 40K split the fastest (19:36) and finished fourth, the first Japanese to reach the line.
Biktimirova said she was comfortable with her run after breaking away from her pursuers.
“I like to run among the men,” she said. “If I am surrounded by women only, I feel like I am surrounded by my rivals. In fact, I would like to thank male runners who ran with me.”
Unlike all other marathons in Japan, prize money in Tokyo is disclosed. Today's winners each won 8 million yen in prize money, plus an additional 3 million yen from Tokyo Metro, for 11 million total on the day, more than USD 120,000.
Click here for race website
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Leading Results -
Masakazu Fujiwara 2:12:19 (15:15, 15:11, 15:25, 15:52, 15:59, 15:56, 15:37, 16:24, 6:40)
Arata Fujiwara 2:12:34
Atsushi Sato 2:12:35
Yuki Kawauchi 2:12:36
Tomoya Adachi 2:12:46
Joseph Mwaniki (KEN) 2:12:53
Rachid Kisri (MAR) 2:12:59
Takaaki Koda 2:13:04
Salim Kipsang (KEN) 2:13:16
Alevtina Biktimirova (RUS) 2:34:39
Robe Guta (ETH) 2:36:29
Nuta Olaru (ROU) 2:36:42
Maki Kono 2:39:01
Yang Jing (CHN) 2:41:04
Yumi Sato 2:43:01
Wakana Hanado 2:44:03
Julia Mumbi (KEN) 2:45:11
5Km 15:11 Masatomo Sugimoto
10Km 30:24 (15:13) Sugimoto
15Km 45:49 (15:25) Sugimoto
20Km 1:01:41 (15:52) Cyrus Njui (KEN)
25Km 1:17:41 (16:00) Elijah Sang (KEN)
30Km 1:33:36 (15:54) Akinori Shibutani
35Km 1:49:14 (15:36) Arata Fujiwara
40Km 2:05:39 (16:25) Salim Kipsang (KEN)
Finish 2:12:19 (6:40) Masakazu Fujiwara
5Km 17:34 Alevtina Biktimirova (RUS)
10Km 34:56 (17:22) Biktimirova
15Km 52:04 (17:08) Biktimirova
20Km 1:09:30 (17:26) Biktimirova
25Km 1:27:24 (17:54) Biktimirova
30Km 1:45:43 (18:19) Biktimirova
35Km 2:04:46 (19:03) Biktimirova
40Km 2:25:17 (20:31) Biktimirova
Finish 2:34:39 (9:22) Biktimirova