Julius Gitahi (KEN) (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Sapporo, Japan

Gitahi and Kano win in the heat at the Hokkaido Marathon

Gitahi and Kano win in the heat at the Hokkaido Marathon

9 September 2007 - Sapporo, Japan - Julius Gitahi and Yuri Kano won the men’s and women’s division, respectively, at the 2007 Hokkaido Marathon in the northern metropolis of Sapporo on Sunday 9 September.

The race which usually takes place on the last Sunday of August was rescheduled for the second Sunday of September to avoid a conflict with the World Championships in Osaka.  Although the race was two weeks later than its usual date, the weather was still far from ideal for a marathon. The temperature at the start was 27C, and humidity exceeded 50%. Thus the winning times were slow. Gitahi, a marathon debutante, won in 2:17:26, while Kano, who was running her second marathon of her running career, won in 2:30:43.

Men’s race:

Due to the warm weather the men’s lead pack started very slow. They passed 1Km in 3:12 and 5Km in 16:16. The pack’s pace stayed slow and just before 15Km check point, two runners – Yasukazu Miyasato and Tadashi Shitamori moved ahead. Soon Miyazato fell back again and Shitamori was alone in front. The Shitamori’s lead, which was 24 seconds at 20Km, was extended to 64 seconds by 25Km.  Although Shitamori visibly slowed after 25Km, the gap narrowed only slightly to a minute by 30Km. Then Gitahi and Ombeche Mokamba made their move and at 34.7Km, Gitahi and Mokamba caught Shitamori. Soon Gitahi surged and shook off Mokamba, and he was running alone.  Gitahi won comfortably by 47 seconds. Masaru Takamizawa, who passed Mokamba in the final metres, finished second. 

Women’s race

Unlike the men’s race, the women’s race started relatively fast thanks to aggressive running by Yuri Kano who essentially led from the start, passing 5Km in 17:17 and 10Km in 34:04. The chase pack, which included Harumi Hiroyama and Masayo Kobayashi, was 13 seconds behind Kano at 5Km. The gap, which stretched to 18 seconds by 10Km, narrowed somewhat in the next two Km, but it was extended to 21 seconds by 15Km, and then to 33 seconds by 20Km. 

Although Kobayashi was trailing behind Hiroyama during the early part of the race, by 23Km she not only caught Hiroyama but started to break away from her.  Kobayashi, however, was not able to get any closer to Kano.  By 25Km Kano led second placed Kobayashi by 57 seconds and the race was essentially over.  Kobayashi finished in second place, more than two minutes behind Kano, while 39-years-old Hiroyama finished third, another 39 seconds behind. Kano was exhausted and thus her coach Manabu Kawagoe said, “Because she (Kano) is trying to make the Olympic marathon team, it is good for her to experience a summer marathon.”   


Gitahi, who represented Kenya and finished ninth at 5000m in the 2000 Olympic Games, made his marathon debut in Sapporo. He has been living in Japan since he was 15-years-old and after graduating from Sendai Ikue high school in Japan, Gitahi has been running for Nissin Foods track team. He not only excelled in track (5000m best of 13:01.89, 10000m best of 27:11.17), but was also supreme in Ekiden. Before the race Gitahi said his goal in the Hokkaido marathon was to finish in top 8 with a time around 2:15.  His time goal eluded him, but he won his debut marathon.

Kano, who made her marathon debut in the 2007 Osaka Ladies Marathon in January, where she finished third with 2:24:43, was an alternate for the World Championships. Her winning time, 2:30:43, would have placed her in second in the World Championships. 

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF


1. Julius Gitahi  (KEN)  2:17:26
2. Masaru Takamizawa  2:18:13
3. Ombeche Mokamba (KEN)  2:18:18
4. Ken-ichiro Kawazu  2:18:45
5. Seiji Kobayashi  2:19:37

1. Yuri Kano   2:30:43
2. Masayo Kobayashi 2:33:00
3. Harumi Hiroyama   2:33:39
4. Mika Hikichi  2:36:16
5. Chihiro Tanaka  2:37:52 

5Km 16:16 
10Km 32:33   (16:17)  
15Km 48:19   (15:46)   Tadashi Shitamori
20Km  1:04:13   (15:54)   Tadashi Shitamori
25Km 1:20:06   (15:53)    Tadashi Shitamori
30Km 1:36:41   (16:35)    Tadashi Shitamori
35Km   1:53:32   (16:51)    Julius Gitahi
40Km 2:09:54   (16:24)   Julius Gitahi 
Finish 2:17:26   (7:33)   Julius Gitahi

5Km 17:17 Yuri Kano
10Km   34:04   (16:47)   Yuri Kano
15Km  50:56   (16:52)   Yuri Kano 
20Km  1:08:15  (17:19)    Yuri Kano 
25Km 1:25:55   (17:40)   Yuri Kano
30Km 1:44:09   (18:14)   Yuri Kano 
35Km 2:02:40   (18:31)   Yuri Kano
40Km 2:22:06   (17:26)   Yuri Kano
Finish  2:30:43  (8:37)  Yuri Kano