Samuel Ndungu and Kayoko Fukushi respectively won the men’s and women’s division of the Marugame Half Marathon, Japan. Fukushi, the course record holder, ran alone for the most of the race, while Ndungu had to fight hard for his victory with Tsuyoshi Ugachi.
The Marugame Half Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
In the men’s race, pre-race favourite Mekubo Mogusu, a Kenyan who runs for corporate team Aidem, started out fast covering the first 5Km in 14:00, eight second ahead of the chase pack including Ndungu, Ugachi, Rachid Kisri and Girma Tolla among them.
By 10Km (28:12) Mogusu was 21 seconds ahead of Ndungu, Ugachi and Kisri. Mogusu’s lead over Ndungu and Ugachi increased to 34 seconds in the next 5Km and it looked as if he was going to win another Marugame Half marathon, having won in 2007 and 2009.
However, Mogusu slowed down in the next 5Km, taking 15:08, and Ndungu and Ugachi caught Mogusu before 20Km, and when Ndungu and Ugachi started to fight for the top spot on the podium, Mogusu was unable to stay with them.
At the end Ndungu, who runs for Japanese corporate team Aichi Steel, won by three seconds with 1:00:55, personal best by 22 seconds. Ugachi was second with 1:00:58. Not only it was a personal best by more than 50 seconds for Ugachi, but it was also the third fastest time by Japanese, behind the current national record of 1:00:25 by Atsushi Sato and the former national record of 1:00:30 by Ken-ichi Takahashi.
The women’s race, billed as Abeylegesse versus Fukushi never materialised, for the Olympic silver medalist pulled out of the race a day before the start. Fukushi won comfortably more than a minute and half ahead of Karolina Jarzynska of Poland. It was third victory for Fukushi at the Marugame Half Marathon, having won in 2006 and 2007, but she was not happy with her winning time of 1:09:00, her slowest time in Marugame. So Fukushi remains stayed undefeated at the half marathon distance.
Rei Ohara finished third in her half marathon debut with 1:10:50, quite a respectable time for the 20 years old, less than two years out of high school. Mika Yoshikawa, five time 1500m national champion, was fourth with 1:11:13, nearly two minutes improvement on her personal best. Her future at longer distance may be bright.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
1. Samuel Ndungu (KEN) 1:00:55 (14:08, 28;33, 43:12, 57:47)
2. Tsuyoshi Ugachi 1:00:58 (14:08, 28:33, 43:12, 57:48)
3. Mekubo Mogusu (KEN) 1:01:29 (14:00, 28:12, 42:38, 57:46)
4. Rachid Kisri (MAR) 1:01:52
5. Hiromitsu Kakuage 1:02;34
6. Ryotaro Nitta 1:02:35
7. Hiroki Kadota 1:02:35
8. Satoru Kasuya 1::02:40
1. Kayoko Fukushi 1:09:00 (15:56, 32:09, 48:46, 1:05:22)
2. Karolina Jarzynska (POL) 1:10:36
3. Rei Ohara 1:10:50
4. Mika Yoshikawa 1:11:13
5. Aki Otagiri 1:11:49
6. Yoshiko Fujinaga 1:12:03
7. Megumi Seike 1:12:04
8. Misato Horie 1:12:16