Running alone over the final 15Km, Jaouad Gharib takes the 2010 Fukuoka Marathon (Yohei KAMIYAMA / Agence SHOT) © Copyright
Contested in sunny and unseasonably warm conditions, it was the slowest winning time since 2005 when Dmytro Baranovskyy won in 2:08:29; Gharib was the only runner to break 2:10. The European Championships bronze medallist, Dmitriy Safronov of Russia, finished a distant second with 2:10:12.
Takayuki Matsumiya, who finished third with 2:10:54, was the first Japanese in the race. However, because he failed to crack 2:09:30, he was not given an automatic berth for the 2011 World Championships marathon team. He still has a chance to make the team, however, for Yukihiro Kitaoka who won the silver medal in the recent Asian Games, is the only runner on the team so far, which leaves four slots still up for grabs. The team will be determined after The Tokyo and Lake Biwa Marathons in February and March.
How the race progressed
It was a strange race that began cautiously due to warm (15 C) conditions. After an opening 2:59 kilometre, the pace slowed. Soon after passing 5Km in 15:06, Kenta Oshima broke away from the lead pack and started running alone in front. However, before 10Km (30:17) he was absorbed by the pack.
Then immediately after the 15th kilometre, Eliud Kiptanui, who ran 2:05:39 at the Prague Marathon this year and serving as a pace maker here, dramatically increased the tempo to cover the next five kilometre stretch in a blazing 14:15, which completely broke up the lead pack.
Gharib followed about 100m behind Kiptanui, covering 15Km to 20Km in 14:32, which could be the fastest five kilometre split between 15K to 20Km in the race completed under 2:08:30. As a reference Haile Gebreselassie covered the same segment in 14:36 in the 2009 Berlin Marathon.
Kiptanui continued to lead well ahead and passed the half way in 1:02:58, but Gharib (1:03:14 at half) started to close the gap. They were followed by Kiprono (1:03:46), Tekeste Kebede, Baranovskyy and Masato Imai (1:03:47).
Gharib (1:14:48) narrowed the gap to 11 seconds on Kiptanui (1:14:37) by 25Km, with Baranovskyy, Kebede and Imai all more than a minute back (1:15:52 - 1:15:55). Soon the chase pack began to break up. Kebede stayed close to the pace maker Kiprono (who dropped out at 30Km) while Imai started to drift back. Baranovskyy drifted back even further. Kiptanui passed 30Km in 1:29:56 and then dropped out, which left Gharib (1:30:04) in front alone, followed by Kebede and Imai.
Thus Gharib ran alone from 15Km to the finish on a course that is completely exposed to the sun and won handily. Behind him, Tekeste Kebede, Masato Imai and Dmytro Baranovskyy tried to stay close, but these tactics turned out to be too ambitious. Although Gharib was soaked wet with sweat, he still covered 30 to 35Km in 15:18 to pass 35Km in 1:45:22 and 40Km in 2:01:07. Gharib took more than seven minutes for the final 2.195Km but still reached the line unchallenged.
Safronov ran a smart race. At the midway point he was seventh, 27 seconds behind the main chase pack of Kebede, Baranovskyy and Imai but then moved up steadily to second place before 35Km. He covered the final 2.195Km in 6:41 to smash his personal best by more than a minute and half.
Takayuki Matsumiya, the former 30Km World record holder, also ran a smart race. He was not even in top 10 before 30Km but eventually finished third to keep his World Championships team hopes alive. “It was not a satisfactory race, but I guess I did the minimum I had to do,” Matsumiya said.
Imai, the Hakone Ekiden superstar now coached by Koichi Morishita the 1992 Olympic marathon silver medallist, ran an aggressive race. He went with the fast pace set by Kebede and Baranovsky to chase after Gharib. Although he was in third at one time late in the race, Imai eventually faded to finish fifth in 2:13:23, which was still huge improvement on his marathon personal best.
The winning margin was nearly two minutes, however, it was far from the biggest winning margin in the history of the race. Two years ago Tsegaye Kebede won by more than three minutes.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Leading Results -
Weather at the start: Sunny; Temperature: 16 C; Humidity: 47%; wind: South East 1.7m/s
Results: JPN unless otherwise noted
1. Jaouad Gharib (MAR) 2:08:24
2. Dmitriy Safronov (RUS) 2:10:12
3. Takayuki Matsumiya 2:10:54
4. Chiharu Takada 2:12:44
5. Masato Imai 2:13:23
6. Dmytro Baranovskyy (UKR) 2:13:40
7. Tekeste Kebede (ETH) 2:14:44
8. Tomoya Shimizu 2:16:22
9. Satoshi Irifune 2:16:42
10. Yuki Kawauchi 2:17:54
5Km 15:06 Kohiei Matsumura
15:07 Jaouad Gharib
10Km 30:17 (15:11) Kohei Matsumura
30:18 Nicholas Kiprono
15Km 45:26 (15:10) Kohei Matsumura
45:27 Eliud Kiptanui
20Km 59:42 (14:15) Eliud Kiptanui
59:59 Jaouad Gharib
60:22 Nicholas Kiprono
60:24 D Baranovskyy
Half 1:02:58 Eliud Kiptanui
1:03:14 Jaoud Gharib
1:03:46 Nicholas Kiprono
1:03:47 Tekeste Kebede
25Km 1:14:37 (14:55) Eliud Kiptanui
1:14:48 Joaud Gharib
1:15:52 Nicholas Kiprono
1:15:55 Tekeste Kebede
30Km 1:29:56 (15:19) Eliud Kiptanui
1:30:04 (15:16) Jaoud Gharib
1:31:27 Nicholas Kiprono
1:31:28 Tekeste Kebede
1:31:45 Masato Imai
1:31:57 Dmitriy Safronov
35Km 1:45:22 (15:18) Jaoud Gharib
1:47:36 Dmitriy Safronov
1:47:36 Tekeste Kebede
1:47:55 Masato Imai
1:48:55 Takayuki Matsumiya
40Km 2:01:07 (15:45) Jaoud Gharib
2:03:31 Dmitriy Safronov
2:04:13 Takayuki Matsumiya
2:05:07 Masato Imai
2006 Evergreen Mutola