Britain’s Mara Yamauchi passed Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi at 34.6Km and went on to win today’s 2008 Osaka Ladies Marathon in Osaka, Japan, with 2:25:10. The event is an 2008 IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
It was personal best by three seconds and the first marathon victory for Yamauchi, who improved on her previous personal best of 2:25:13 from the 2006 London Marathon.
Finishing second in the race was Tomo Morimoto in 2:25:34, her personal best is 2:24:33 from her win in Vienna in 2006. Yet the next three finishers today did all set personal bests: Kenya's Julia Mombi, who finished third in 2:26:00 and Miki Ohira, who finished fourth in 2:26:09, improved their personal bests by more than three minutes. Madoka Ogi, a marathon debutante, finished a most respectable fifth with 2:26:55.
Two Romanian 'old-timers' ran well. Lidia Simon finished sixth in 2:27:17, her fastest time since 2005, while Constantina Dita-Tomescu was ninth in 2:28:15. Mika Okunaga in seventh place improved her personal best by more than two minutes, while Aki Fujinaga, who finished eighth in 2:28:06, ran her fastest marathon since 2004. A total of thirteen runners broke 2:30 barrier.
Unfortunately, Yumiko Hara, who was considered a pre-race co-favourite pulled out of the race at the last minute citing a cold.
How the race unfolded…
Fukushi alone in front for 33km
Kayoko Fukushi pulled away from the pack after passing the 1km marker and then run alone for the next 33Km. The pack of eighteen runners chased Fukushi who was already 22 seconds ahead by 5Km. As Fukushi continued to push the pace in front, her pursuers fell further and further behind. Five kilometres later their numbers were reduced to 15 runners, and they were 43 seconds behind the Japanese leader.
Fukushi passed 15Km in 50:10, while the chasing pack fell behind to a minute and 35 seconds. The first big casualty was Yuri Kano, who dropped out at 17Km whose existing problem with her left heel got worse during the race.
By 20Km, the chasing pack was down to 14 runners and five kilometres later, it was down to ten. Haruko Okamoto and Aki Fujikawa were the main casualties.
Then in the 5Km segment between 25Km to 30Km, the chase pack closed the gap on Fukushi for the first time. At the same time pack was reduced to eight runners (Tomo Morimoto, Mara Yamauchi, Julia Mombi, Miki Ohira, Constantina Dita-Tomescu, Madoka Ogi, Lidia Simon and Kazue Ogoshi). They were two minutes and one second behind Fukushi at 30km.
Fukushi’s first sign of trouble started to show after 25Km. She covered 27 to 28Km in 3:29 and then 28 to 29Km in 3:36. But she was in real trouble after 31Km, taking 3:44 for the next kilometre and then 3:56 between 33 to 34Km.
Meanwhile in the chase pack, Morimoto started to push the covering 30 to 31Km in 3:21 and soon she only had four runners for company – Tomo Morimoto, Mara Yamauchi, Madoka Ogi and Julia Mombi – and they covered the next kilometre in 3:27.
Yamauchi's attack began at 32km
Starting at 32Km, Yamauchi started to push the pace covering 32 to 33Km in 3:18 and opening a gap on her three opponents. The sustained attack by the Briton was enough for Yamauchi to catch and pass the slowing Fukushi at 34.6Km. Morimoto and Mombi also passed faltering Fukushi, while by 34.6Km Ogi was to lose ground on Mombi and Morimoto
Yamauchi continued to pull ahead, while Morimoto and Mombi were running together in the second place. The gap was 10 seconds at 35Km but it grew to 28 seconds by 40Km. Meanwhile by 39.6Km, Morimoto was pulling ahead of Mombi, and by 40Km she was six seconds ahead of Mombi. Morimoto chased Yamauchi hard but could only close the gap by four seconds.
“I am happy with my first marathon victory,” said the winner who crossed in 2:25:10. “I was hoping to run little faster, but win is a win, so I am very happy,” said Yamauchi, who is married to a Japanese national and lives in Japan. She gave her post-race interview in Japanese.
“Because I slowed down on the same course last year in the World Championships, I made sure to finish strongly today,” concluded Yamauchi.
Tomo Morimoto in second (2:25:34), said, “I hope to run around 2:22 to 2:23,” before the race. “When the pace slowed down after 10Km, I did not have any courage to push the pace.” It may be fast enough to make the Japanese Olympic team, it all depends on what happens in the Nagoya Women’s marathon in March, where Naoko Takahashi, Chisato Osaki, Kiyoko Shimahara and Yasuko Hashimoto are among the favourite.
Julia Mombi, who finished third in 2:26:00, was hoping to run fast enough to make the Kenyan Olympic team. Before the race Mombi said, “I won’t make the Kenyan Olympic team unless I crack 2:23.”
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Assisted by Akihiro Onishi
Weather: Cloudy; temperature: 5.6C; humidity: 61%; wind; 1.5m/s South South West
1) Mara Yamauchi (GBR) 2:25:10
2) Tomo Morimoto 2:25:34
3) Julia Mombi (KEN) 2:26:00
4) Miki Ohira 2:26:09
5) Madoka Ogi 2:26:55
6) Lidia Simon (ROM) 2:27:17
7) Mika Okunaga 2:27:52
8) Aki Fujikawa 2:28:06
9) Constantina Dita-Tomescu (ROM) 2:28:15
10) Christelle Daunay (FRA) 2:28:24
11) Ayumi Nakayama 2:28:50
12) Miyuki Ando 2:29:07
13) Kazue Ogoshi 2:29:31
14) Olesya Nurgalieva (RUS) 2:31:23
15) Haruko Okamoto 2:32:09
16) Natalya Berkut (UKR) 2:32:15
17) Yuka Ezaki 2:32:33
18) Yukiko Matsubara 2:34:05
19) Kayoko Fukushi 2:40:54
5Km 16:34 Kayoko Fukushi
16:56 Constantina Dita-Tomescu
10Km 33:11 (16:37) Kayoko Fukushi
33:54 (16:58) Constantina Dita-Tomescu
15Km 50:10 (16:59) Kayoko Fukushi
51:45 (17:51) Miki Ohira
20Km 1:06:52 (16:42) Kayoko Fukushi
1:08:37 (16:52) Constantina Dita-Tomescu
Half 1:10:32 Kayoko Fukushi
25Km 1:23:56 (17:04) Kayoko Fukushi
1:26:05 (17:28) Mara Yamauchi
30Km 1:41:25 (17:29) Kayoko Fukushi
1:43:26 (17:21) Tomo Morimoto
1:43:27 (17:22) Mara Yamauchi
35Km 2:00:12 (16:45) Mara Yamauchi
2:00:22 (16:56) Tomo Morimoto
2:00:22 Julia Mombi
2:00:26 Madoka Ogi
2:00:29 (19:04) Kayoko Fukushi
40Km 2:17:24 (17:12) Mara Yamauchi
2:17:52 (17:30) Tomo Morimoto
2:25:17 (24:48) Kayoko Fukushi