The reigning World Marathon champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya won the 48th annual Sapporo Half Marathon, Sapporo, Japan, in 1:09:24 on Sunday 3 July. It was the third victory in four years for Ndereba, who is also the Olympic Marathon silver medallist. She thus became the first three-time winner of the Sapporo Half marathon, having also won in 2002 and 2003.
“I had a lot of pressure coming into this race, but I did not pay attention to it,” said Ndereba who had sealed the victory when she left Yasuyo Iwamoto, her final challenger, at 15Km, running alone for the rest of the race. “No, I did not plan to surge at 15Km,” the winner confirmed.
Megubo Mogusu of Kenya won the men’s race in 1:01:28.
The race started in warm weather. The temperature at the start of the race, at 1:32PM, was 27.5C, and perhaps because of it, both the men’s and women’s races were tough.
By 5km (16:19), only ten runners, including Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi and Catherine Ndereba were in the lead pack. The pack was reduced further to six runners – Yasuyo Iwamoto, Mizuki Noguchi, Megumi Oshima, Catherine Ndereba, Masako Chiba and Hiromi Ominami – by 7Km.
At 8Km, Masako Chiba lost contact with the leaders, followed by Hiromi Ominami a Km later.
Oshima, who will be running the World Championships Marathon in Helsinki, was the next casualty at 11Km, leaving Ndereba, Noguchi and Iwamoto in front. Surprisingly, Noguchi was the next to go at 13Km, thus leaving the others to duel it out. It did not last very long, for Ndereba surged away from Iwamoto before 15Km, and ran the rest of the race alone in front, winning in 1:09:24.
Noguchi, caught Iwamoto at 15.8Km, but these two swapped positions continually without ever getting away from each other by more than a few seconds, and as they entered the stadium the Olympic champion had a three second lead on Iwamoto.
Yet Iwamoto wasn’t about to give up, and caught Noguchi just before they hit the home straight. Iwamoto finished second 21 seconds behind the winner Nderba, while Noguchi was another second behind. “It was a hard race. My leg felt heavy,” said Noguchi after the race. “I am not happy because I lost the race, but I was able to find out what need to done.”
Megubo Mogusu, a Kenyan living in Japan and attending Yamanashi Gakuin University, won the men’s Sapporo Half Marathon in 1:01:28, followed home by nine other Africans (eight Kenyans and one Ethiopian) in the next minute and thirty-two seconds.
Two time Olympic marathon medallist Eric Wainaina finished 10th in 1:03:00, while the first Japanese was Atsushi Fujita in eleventh place, also a minute and 32 seconds behind the winner Mogusu. Finishing 21st, two-minutes 42seconds behind the winner was Olympic marathon bronze medallist Vanderlei de Lima of Brazil.
The pack of fourteen runners, which included one Ethiopian, one Japanese and twelve Kenyans, went through 5Km in 14:16 but de Lima was not in the lead pack, having lost contact with the leaders by 3Km.
By 6.5Km, the pack was reduced to 10 runners. By 9Km, it was down to four runners - Mogusu, Josephat Muchiri Ndambiri, Simon Maina and Girma Assefa. Soon after the turn around point, Ndambiri was the next casualty.
At 12Km Assefa also lost contact with the leaders, and by 13.5Km, Mogusu was alone in front, having left Maina behind by then. Mogusu won in 1:01:28, 17 seconds short of the course record recorded by Samuel Kabiru of Kenya in 2002.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
With assistance by Akihiro Onishi
Megubo Mogusu (KEN) 1:01:28
Girma Assefa (ETH) 1:01:40
Simon Maina (KEN) 1:01:49
J Muchiri Ndambiri (KEN) 1:02:10
Cyrus Njui (KEN) 1:02:40
Julius Gitahi (KEN) 1:02:44
Ombeche Mokamba (KEN) 1:02:47
John Kanyi (KEN) 1:02:53
Samuel Muturi (KEN) 1:02:56
Eric Wainaina (KEN) 1:03:00
Atsushi Fujita 1:03:00
Catherine Ndereba (KEN) 1:09:24
Yasuyo Iwamoto 1:09:45
Mizuki Noguchi 1:09:46
Megumi Oshima 1:09:59
Eri Hayakawa 1:10:14
Hiromi Ominami 1:10:28
Yoko Yagi 1:11:01
Masako Chiba 1:11:10
Miki Oyama 1:11:59
Harumi Hiroyama 1:12:17
5Km J Muchiri Ndambiri (KEN) 14:16
10Km J Muchiri Ndambiri (KEN) 28:32 (14:16)
15Km Megubo Mogusu (KEN) 42:43 (14:11)
20Km Megubo Mogusu (KEN) 58:05 (14:22)
5Km Mizuki Noguchi 16:19
10Km Mizuki Noguchi 32:39 (16:20)
15Km Catherine Ndereba (KEN) 49:00 (16:21)
20Km Catherine Ndereba (KEN) 1:05:51 (16:51)