Running away from Mara Yamauchi at 17.4km, Evelyne Kimwei, a Kenyan who runs for Japanese Corporate team Panasonic, won the half marathon division of Sanyo Road Race on 23 December in Okayama with 1:09:20, a course record.
It was her second victory in three years, having won in 2005 with 1:10:47, but finished second last year. Mara Yamauchi who finished eight seconds behind also broke the course record, 1:10:01, which was set by Benita Johnson last year. The defending champion Johnson was originally scheduled to defend her crown, but she felt that she wasn’t in the best shape for the race, and pulled out of the race several weeks ago.
How the race unfolded
A pack of five runners (Kimwei, Lidia Simon, Yurika Nakamura and Megumi Seike) led by Mara Yamauchi passed the first kilometre in 3:17, 2km in 6:33 and 3km in 9:42.
Seike fell behind after 4km. Simon and Nakamura were the next casualties at 4.7km, which left Kimwei and Yamauchi in the front. The duel continued with Yamauchi in front.
Starting around 14km Yamauchi kept on urging Kimwei to take over the lead. “Her (Kimwei) coach must have told her to stay behind,” said Yamauchi.
“I learned from the experience from last year. This course is too difficult (to lead all the way),” said Kimwei. Kimwei declined to take the lead until 17.4km. But when she did Kimwei ran away from Yamauchi and won by eight seconds.
Ken Nakamura assisted by Akihiro Onishi for the IAAF
Half Marathon (JPN unless otherwise noted)
1) Evelyne Kimwei (KEN) 1:09:20 (16:14, 32:35, 49:11, 1:05:39)
2) Mara Yamauchi (GBR) 1:09:28 (16:14, 32:35, 49:10, 1:05:48)
3) Yurika Nakamura 1:10:23 (16:17, 33:06, 49:51, 1:06:46)
4) Lidia Simon (ROM) 1:10:47 (16:17, 32:57, 49:56, 1:07:04)
5) Megumi Seike 1:12:43
6) Yukiko Matsubara 1:14:26
7) Luminita Zaituc (GER) 1:14:28
8) Mikie Takanaka 1:15:03
1) Erba Tiki Gelana (ETH) 31:54
2) Pauline Waruguru (KEN) 32:42
3) Sayaka Kuroki 33:50
Weather: Cloudy, temperature: 12C, humidity: 82%, wind: East North East 0.8m/s