Osaka, JapanBreaking away from Yoko Shibui at 29Km, Yumiko Hara went on to win the 2007 Osaka International Ladies Marathon in 2:23:48 on Sunday (28).
Since she won with sub 2:26 clocking, Hara was automatically selected for the national marathon team for the World Championships race in Osaka on 2 September 2007.
Mari Ozaki finished second in 2:24:39, while a marathon debutante Yuri Kano finished close third in 2:24:43. Nobody else broke 2:30. Because their times are relatively fast and a team of five can enter the Marathon in the World Championships (which incorporates the Marathon World Cup team competition), it is likely Ozaki and Kano will be selected too but it all depends on the results of Nagoya Women’s Marathon in March.
Hara follows Shibui’s lead
As expected Yoko Shibui took off from the start along with pace setter Adriana Pirtea of Romania and Hara who stayed close to them, while rest of the contenders formed a second group. The leaders passed 1Km in 3:21, the time that translates to approximately 16:40 for 5Km, the pace that Shibui promised at the pre-race press conference two days before.
After passing 5Km in 16:52, a pace setter Pirtea fell behind Shibui and Hara, and soon dropped out of the race. The second group – Lucy Wangui, Mari Ozaki, Yuri Kano, Kazue Ogoshi, Tomo Morimoto, Inga Abitova and Miho Notagashira - passed 5Km in 17:02.
Shibui continued to lead in front towing along Hara. They passed 10Km in 33:21, 15Km in 50:04, 20Km in 1:06:45 and a half way in 1:10:24. At half way, they were a mere three seconds behind the course record (2:21:18) pace, which had been set by the current Olympic Champion Mizuki Noguchi in 2003.
Meanwhile the following pack was falling further and further behind the leaders. At 5Km they were 10 seconds behind Hara and Shibui, which was extended to 36 seconds by 10Km. The gap continued to grow and by 20Km Hara and Shibui were one minute and 35 seconds ahead.
The potential challengers were also starting to dwindle in number despite not a very fast pace - (over 17 minutes for each 5Km). Just before 20Km, Miho Notagashira lost contact, while Tomo Morimoto was the next casualty before the half way mark. Thus by the half way, Hara and Shibui led the race, followed by Wangui, Ozaki, Kano, Ogoshi and Abitova. Ogoshi was next to fall behind at 23Km.
Breakaway comes between 29 and 30km
Up front, Shibui was not able to keep up a sub-17 minutes pace (for 5Km), and as the speed slowed leading up to 29Km, Hara took off and by 30Km Shibui was 10 seconds behind.
As Hara continued to pull away from Shibui, the second pack also broke apart when Ozaki and Kano upped the tempo, and started to gain on Hara after 25Km. At 30.8Km Ozaki left Kano and really started to chase Hara. Ozaki covered 25Km to 30Km in 17 minutes and 30Km to 35Km in 16:55, and thus closed the gap on Hara by 34 seconds.
Shibui in second place was suffering and slowing down, stopping once at 34Km, and then at 34.4Km was passed by Ozaki. Four hundred metres later Kano went ahead of Shibui as she took 18:41 for 5Km between 30Km and 35Km and 23:17 for 5Km between 35Km and 40Km. Shibui finished a distant tenth.
Meanwhile Hara was fighting with the wind. “The wind was strongest from 35K to the finish. Even downhill was hard,” said Hara. Both Ozaki and Kano continued to gain on Hara, but Hara was never really threatened and won by more than 50 seconds.
Plagued by injuries since Helsinki World Champs
Hara finished in 2:23:48, a 31 seconds improvement on her personal best. It was her second marathon win in three starts, having made a marathon debut in the 2005 Nagoya Women’s Marathon where she won in 2:24:19, and followed it up with a sixth place finish in the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki (2:24:20). Since Helsinki, Hara’s career has been plagued with injuries, so the Osaka Ladies Marathon was her first marathon in a year and five months.
During that period of persistent injury “I knew I could not quit, because I could not let people down. I know I am a good runner because many people have worked hard and contributed to my development. So even when I was injured I did not give up the goal of running in the World Championships in Osaka.”
“I was told by my coach not to make any move before 30Km, but for some reason (Yoko) Shibui has slowing down nearing 29Km (28Km to 29Km was covered in 3:31) so I decided to go.”
Ozaki who will be married in March, finished second in 2:24:39 - “If I was selected to run in the World Championships in Osaka, I need to change my plan and train much harder than I had planned. Since I was 15th in Helsinki, if I run in Osaka, I want to finish in top eight,” said Ozaki after the race.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Weather at the start: temperature 9.9C, 50% humidity.
Results (JPN unless otherwise noted)
1) Yumiko Hara 2:23:48
2) Mari Ozaki 2:24:39
3) Yuri Kano 2:24:43
4) Kazue Ogoshi 2:31:04
5) Yuka Ezaki 2:31:35
6) Lidia Simon (ROM) 2:32:09
7) Nuta Olaru (ROM) 2:33:47
8) Yukako Goto 2:33:51
9) Miyuki Ando 2:34:03
10) Yoko Shibui 2:34:15
11) Asami Obi 2:34:50
12) Tomo Morimoto 2:38:24
Pace for Hara
10Km 33:21 (16:29)
15Km 50:04 (16:43)
20Km 1:06:45 (16:41)
25Km 1:23:42 (16:57)
30Km 1:40:54 (17:12)
35Km 1:58:11 (17:17)
40Km 2:15:57 (17:46)
Finish 2:23:48 (7:51)