In the race where the competitions among the best Japanese was the main focus, Albina Ivanova-Mayorova of Russia stole the show in Nagoya Women’s Marathon, the first edition of mass participating marathon with 15,000 women runners.
Running in the second pack until the half marathon point at thisIAAF Silver Label Road Race, Mayorova not only made up a minute and half deficit in the next 14Km to caught up with the leaders, but she run away from the top Japanese to win with 2:23:52. Since the course for this year’s race was different from previous years, this may be considered the course record for Nagoya, although Naoko Takahashi ran 2:22:19 on the old course back in 2000.
The race for what turned out to be second place, but more importantly the top Japanese spot, was won by Yoshimi Ozaki with 2:24:14. Ozaki, the 2009 World Championships silver medallist, ran away from Remi Nakazato in the final 500 metres of the race after a titanic duel which lasted for five kilometres.
“I wanted to win but I think it was good to be the first Japanese in the race,” Ozaki said. “It showed how serious I am about making the team. It was a confidence builder for me.” After trying to make the Olympic team in Daegu where she was 18th and in Yokohama where she was second, for Ozaki third time was a charm.
Nakazato, tenth in Daegu, finished third in 2:24:28, and still left some hope of making the team. Yoko Shibui, national 10,000m record holder as well as former national Marathon record holder, was fourth in 2:25:02, followed by Mai Ito with 2:25:26. The 2004 Olympic marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi lost contact with the leader at 17Km but running with much tenacity for the next 12Km, she regained contact at 29Km. But that was as close as she got to the Olympic team. She eventually finished sixth in 2:25:33, and her Olympic dream was dashed.
It was one of the deepest marathons in Japan. A total of seven runners including five Japanese cracked 2:27, while nine runners including seven Japanese cracked 2:28. Of the top nine runners, Mayorova, Nakazato, Ito and Miyauchi set personal bests. The best marks for places in a Japanese Marathon for sixth to tenth were set on Sunday. Two all-time greats, Lidia Simon and Catherine Ndereba, did not fare well. Simon was 19th while Ndereba was only 22nd.
The Japanese Olympic team will be announced on Monday, and the candidates are Yoshimi Ozaki and Remi Nakazato who were first and second Japanese in Nagoya; Risa Shigetomo, who won the Osaka Women’s Marathon; and Ryoko Kizaki who won Yokohama Women’s Marathon in November. If winning is given greater weight, then Shigetomo and Kizaki have a better chance to make the team, whereas if fast time are given greater importance then Shigetomo, Ozaki and Nakazato will get a nod. However, the process is much more subtle and the Marathon team selection for both men and women will be discussed in depth on Monday.
How the race unfolded:
Approaching 5Km (16:56) Noguchi moved ahead of the pace makers to ensure she wouldn’t miss her water bottle. Meanwhile defending champion (meaning 2010 champion as 2011 race was cancelled) Yuri Kano along with Akane Wakita fell behind early. Ndereba and Simon, along with other invited runners from abroad, were running in the second pack. Noguchi continued to run aggressively as she run ahead of the pace makers from time to time. Perhaps it was a bit warm for her because she took water at 7Km as well. “The sun is beating down on the runner quite strongly,” said Toshihiko Seko, marathon legend commentating for television.
Yukiko Akaba dropped her water bottle at the 10Km (33:53) aid station and temporary fell behind the 15 or so runner in the lead pack and was forced to work her way back. Approaching 12Km Yoshiko Fujinaga, 2009 Nagoya Women’s Marathon champion, was a next to lose contact. Noguchi continued to run aggressively moving ahead of pace makers from time to time, but around the 17Km mark, the Athens Olympic gold medallist began to lose contact. However, she was not falling apart but instead keeping the lead pack within her sight. At 20Km (1:07:49), Noguchi was eight seconds behind the leaders. At the 20Km water station Kaoru Nagao fell and thus lost contact with the leaders. She would never recover from her fall. Around the same time Mizuho Nasukawa and Kaori Yoshida also fell behind.
By the half marathon point (1:11:30) seven runners – Yoshimi Ozaki, Remi Nakazato, Yukiko Akaba, Yoko Shibui, Misaki Katsumata, Mai Ito and Yoko Miyauchi– and one pace maker were left in the lead pack. However, the pace maker, who was scheduled to lead until 25Km, was unable to do so after 23Km, and the pace slackened. As the pace for the leading seven stayed sluggish, Noguchi, who was 24 seconds behind the leaders at 25Km started to gain. By 28Km, Noguchi had closed the gap to six seconds behind the lead pack, and then just before 29Km, she caught up to the leaders. At 32Km Ozaki tried to break the pack and Noguchi, Shibui and Akaba all seemed to be in trouble.
Meanwhile Mayorova of Russia was steadily gaining on the leaders. Soon after 35Km (1:59:41) Mayorova not only caught the leaders but went into the lead, which in turn broken up the lead pack. While Ozaki, Nakazato and Ito were able to keep up with Mayorova, Shibui, Noguchi and Akaba were left behind.
As Mayorova pushed the pace Ito started to drift back after 36Km. Soon Ozaki and Nakazato were also left behind. Perhaps Ozaki and Nakazato were both trying to be the first Japanese, thus letting Mayorova go.
Ozaki and Nakazato continued to race for the top Japanese spot. The passed the 1Km-to-go sign post together, some 200m behind Mayorova, who went on to win the race comfortably. Then with the Nagoya dome in sight, a little over 500 metres to go to the finish Ozaki surged away to finish second overall.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Weather: Sunny; temperature: 7C
1. Albina Mayorova, RUS 2:23:52
(17:27, 34:45, 52:10, 69:16, 1:13:00, 1:26:20, 1:43:06, 1:59:46, 2:16:32)
2. Yoshimi Ozaki 2:24:14
(16:57, 33:54, 50:56, 67:49, 1:11:30, 1:24:57, 1:42:31, 1:59:41, 2:16:53)
3. Remi Nakazato 2:24:28
(16:57, 33:53, 50:56, 67:50, 1:11:30,1:24:57, 1:42:31, 1:59:41, 2:16:52)
4. Yoko Shibui 2:25:02
5. Mai Ito 2:25:26
6. Mizuki Noguchi 2:25:33
(16:56, 33:53, 50:56, 67:57, 1:11:43, 1:25:21, 1:42:31, 1:59:55, 2:17:41)
7. Olena Shurkho, UKR 2:25:49
8. Yukiko Akaba 2:26:08
9. Yoko Miyauchi 2:26:23
10. Misaki Katsumata 2:28:01
11. Eri Hayakawa 2:28:44
12. Yuko Watanabe 2:29:20
13. Jessica Trengove, AUS 2:31:02
14. Rei Omata 2:31:13
19. Lidia Simon, ROU 2:33:41
22, Catherine Ndereba, KE 2:35:08
10Km 33:53 (16:57)
15Km 50:56 (17:03)
20Km 67:49 (16:53)
30Km 1:42:31 (17:34)
35Km 1:59:41 (17:10)
Finish 2:23:52 (7:20)