Salim Kipsang cruises to victory in Tokyo (Yohei Kamiyama/Agence SHOT) © Copyright
General News

Battling winds, Kipsang and Nasukawa take Tokyo Marathon victories

Battling strong winds, Kenyan Salim Kipsang and Mizuho Nasukawa of Japan collected victories at today’s third annual Tokyo Marathon.

The Tokyo Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

Kipsang surged over the bridge at 36Km to leave Sammy Korir of Kenya and Japan’s Kensuke Takahashi behind to win in 2:10:27.  The time was disappointingly slow because the race was marred with strong winds, much of the time against the runners, especially in the closing stage of the course. 

In the women’s race, Nasukawa broke from Ethiopian Shitaye Gemechu and Yukari Saharu of Japan just before 30Km to win in 2:25:38, chopping more than four minutes from her previous personal best and winning by more than three minutes.

Men’s race -

Five minutes after the wheelchair athletes began the race at 9:05am, 35,000 runners started from the front of Metropolitan Government Office building in Shinjuku. The first Km was passed in 3:05, and approximately 40 runners passed 5Km in 15:00. Toshinari Takaoka, who is running his final marathon of his career, fell behind the leaders early.  He passed 5Km in 16:10, over a minute behind the leader.

As the course turned south, the wind turned against the runners and the 10Km split time slowed to 30:10.  Just before 10Km Tsuyoshi Ogata fell behind, and by 10Km he was more than 10 seconds behind the leaders. Ogata apparently was running with an injury problem.  With the wind against the runners, 15Km was even slower 45:34. The 20Km was passed in 1:00:48 and the half marathon in 1:04:15. 

After the last pace makers, Kenyans Boaz Cheboiywo and Cyrus Njui, left the course at 25Km (1:16:13), Korir and Dmytoro Barnovsky started to lead the race.  The lead pack was reduced to approximately ten runners. At the 30Km (1:31:46) aid station, while other runners were taking fluid, Kensuke Takahashi skipped his drink and surged ahead in an attempt to break away.  Kenta Oshima tried to cover Takahashi’s move for a while, but he soon fell behind. Noting that the real racing had started Korir and Kipsang moved into second and third and started to close the gap on Takahashi. 

At 31.3Km, Kipsang moved into front, followed by Korir and Takahashi.  The race seemed to be turning into a three-man contest. The pace is not exceptionally fast (30 to 31Km was covered in 3:03, while 31 to 32Km in 2:59), but the trio were pulling away.  By then the chase pack consisted of just one runner, Kazuhiro Maeda, a marathon debutant, trying hard to keep the race close. Atsushi Fujita was nowhere in sight.

At 35Km aid station, Kipsang drop his bottle and went back to retrieve it.  It was a great opportunity for Korir and Takahashi to get rid of Kipsang, but although Korir took the lead, the pace did not pick up (34 to 35Km in 3:08 and 35 to 36Km in 3:09) and soon Kipsang re-joined the leaders. The course then entered its hilliest portion, and at one of these hill, at 36Km (covered 36 to 37Km in 3:01), Kipsang surged hard and opened a gap on Korir and Takahashi.

While Kipsang was pulling away, approaching 37Km Maeda, who was 16 seconds behind Korir, was closing the gap on Korir and Takahashi, and at 37.9Km Maeda moved passed both of them to into second. As the course approached the sea, the wind was really picking up, and the pace slowed. Kipsang passed 40Km in 2:03:09 (15:57), while Maeda was 38 seconds behind.  The gap between Kipsang and Maeda narrowed, but only by a few seconds.

“I am happy after winning this great race,” said Kipsang, who was second in the 1998 World Junior Championships over 10,000m. He took home a prize of 11 million yen (USD 114,613). This is the first time official prize money was awarded in a Marathon in Japan, other than a World Championship.

Maeda finished second in 2:11:01 and thus automatically selected for the marathon team for Berlin.

“I thought the pace was too fast (when Takahashi made his move), so I end up running the race alone for a while,” Maeda said. “Maybe I should have went with them. But I believed in myself and kept plugging away thinking I may be able to catch them.”

The 27-year-old has represented Japan on a number of occasions internationally: he ran the 5000m at the 2000 World Junior Championships, 10,000m at the 2007 World Championships, and was part of the squad at the 2006 World Cross Country Championships and 2007 World Road Running Championships.

“I did not think I would be the first Japanese, so I am very happy.  I was not thinking about time; I was only thinking about the position.” When asked “How was your first marathon,” by legendary marathon runner Toshihiko Seko, who was one of the TV commentators, Maeda answered, “Running alone was very tough.” Maeda was not an invited runner, but because he was one of two Japanese runners who had a sub-28 minutes 10,000m best (the other is Takaoka), Seko was predicting that Maeda would be the first Japanese.

Takahashi finished third in 2:11:25, while Korir was fourth in 2:11:57 and Kenta Oshima fifth in 2:12:54. The first three Japanese finishers were not part of the invited runner group. Tomoyuki Sato in sixth place was the first among Japanese invited runners. Takaoka fell behind the leader before 5Km, while Ogata lost contact with the leaders just before 10Km. They both dropped out before 35Km. Atsushi Fujita finished in 2:14:00. In short, invited Japanese did not fare well.

Women’s race -

The leaders passed 5Km in 17:01 and 10Km in 34:17, but by 15Km (51:33) the lead pack was reduced to Yukari Sahaku, Gemechu, Nasukawa and Hiromi Ominami. Alevtina Biktimirova and Pamela Chepchumba were left behind. Four leaders passed 20Km in 1:08:33 and Sahaku, Gemechu and Nasukawa passed 25Km in 1:25:31.  At 29.7Km Nasukawa moved into front and left Gemechu and Sahaku behind, and won comfortably. 

“As we approached the sea, the wind was getting stronger, but fortunately I was sheltered by male runners,” said Nasukawa, who is coached by Yoshio Koide, who coached Naoko Takahashi to an Olympic Gold.  “Watching my teammates run aggressively in Nagoya, I too was able to run aggressively today, and was able to run the time I have been told that I am capable of.”

However, since Tokyo is not a World Championships qualifying race for Japanese women, she won’t be going to Berlin.

Sahaku, another Koide-trained runner, was second in 2:28:55 and improved her personal best by nearly three minutes. Reiko Tosa fell at 5Km but recovered well and was third in the final marathon of her career with 2:29:19. Rounding up the top five, Alevtina Biktimirova finished fourth in 2:29:33 and Gemechu was fifth in 2:29:59.

Ken Nakamura (Assisted by Akihiro Onishi) for the IAAF

Leading Results -
Weather:  Cloudy; temperature: 15.2C; humidity: 74%; wind: South 6m/s
Men -
1) Salim Kipsang (KEN)     2:10:27
2) Kazuhiro Maeda   2:11:01
3) Kensuke Takahashi 2:11:25
4) Sammy Korir (KEN)  2:11:57 
5) Kenta Oshima  2:12:54
6) Tomoyuki Sato  2:13:12
7) Dmytro Baranovsky (UKR) 2:13:27
8) Asnake Roro Fekadu (ETH)  2:13:40
9) Kentaro Nakamoto 2:13:53
10) Atsushi Fujita  2:14:00

Women -
1) Mizuho Nasukawa    2:25:38
2) Yukari Sahaku  2:28:55
3) Reiko Tosa    2:29:19
4) Alvevtina  Biktimirova (RUS)  2:29:33
5) Shiytaye Gemechu (ETH)  2:29:59
6) Kiyoko Shimahara  2:31:57
7) Hiromi Ominami  2:32:11
8) Luminita Talpos (ROU)  2:32:22
9) Pamela Chepchumba (KEN) 2:32:40
10) Harumi Hiroyama 2:35:39 

Winner’s Splits:
Men, Kipsang  --  Women, Nasukawa
5Km - 15:01  --  17:01
10Km - 30:11   (15:10)  --  34:19  (17:18)
15Km - 45:35 (15:24)  --  51:34  (17:15) 
20Km - 60:49  (15:14)  --  1:08:34 (17:00)
25Km - 1:16:14  (15:25)  --  1:25:31 (16:57)
30Km - 1:31:46  (15:32)  --  1:42:33  (17:02)
35Km - 1:47:13 (15:27)  --  1:59:53  (17:20)
40Km - 2:03:10  (15:57)  --  2:17:39  (17:46)
Finish - 2:10:27  (7:17)  --  2:25:38  (7:59)