Albina Ivanova (RUS) defends her title at the Nagano Marathon (Kazutaka Eguchi/Agence SHOT) © Copyright
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Kinyanjui, Ivanova the winners in Nagano

Defending champion Albina Ivanova of Russia won the eighth Nagano Marathon in 2:28:52, while Nephat Kinyanjui of Kenya won the men’s division with a personal best of 2:11:18.

“It is a good course.  I like it,” said Kinyanjui after the race.  After winning for the second consecutive year, Ivanova emphatically stamped her approval on the Nagano course as well.

“I am very happy to win again. I love Nagano!”

Aggressive start by Amaha – Men’s race

Just two kilometers into the race under clear sunny skies, Gidey Amaha of Ethiopia made a break from the pack.  Amaha passed 3Km in 9:40 and 5Km in 15:35. Even with such a modest pace, Amaha was 38 seconds ahead of the chase pack at the 5Km check point, and continued to increase his lead over the seventeen runner chase pack. By kilometre 10 (30:41), he was 70 seconds ahead of the large pursuing group.

Although the pace stayed modest, in the next 10Km Amaha further increased his lead over the next 10Km, and maintained a 29 second lead at 20Km (1:02:03). But after 25Km, Amaha began to slow. He took 16:10 for the 5Km segment between 25Km to 30Km; meanwhile three runners - Kinyanjui, Georgiy Andreyev and Isaac Macharia - broke away from the chase pack in pursuit of the leader.

Just beyond the 31 kilometre point, the trio caught Amaha to form a brief four-man lead pack, but less than three kilometers later, Amaha was left behind. Another kilometre later, a side stitch slowed Macharia, the defending champion, leaving Kinyanjui and Andreyev to fight it out over the final stages. They entered the city’s Stadium - site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympics) - together before Kinyanjui pulled ahead at the very end of the race to nab the victory by one second.

Gezehegne Abera, the 2000 Olympic and 2001 World Champion, dropped out of the race just beyond the 10 kilomtre point.

Chiba the early leader, but Albinova just bides her time

In the women’s race, Masako Chiba, bronze medallist at the 2003 World Championships, led in the early going, taking a pack of seven through 10Km in a modest 36:01. When Chiba, apparently not feeling well, gave up the lead, it was Russian Silvia Skvortsova who took over the pacing chores. The lead pack of six  - Skvortsova, Albina Ivanova, Atsede Baysa, Chiba, Yoshimi Hoshino and Nina Rillstone - passed 15Km in 53:56 and 20Km in 1:12:08, but by the 25th kilometre, Skvortsova and the defending champion Ivanova broke clear.

They run together until 30Km, at which point Ivanova broke away en route to a comfortably 36 second victory, ahead of Skvorstsova and New Zealander Rillstone, who was running in her debut. Hoshino, who was fifth last year, moved up one spot to finish fourth. Chiba dropped out after 22 kilometres.

In all, 5952 runners, including 867 women, started the race. 

Ken Nakamara and Akihiro Onishi for the IAAF

Leading Results:
Weather: Sunny, temperature 10C, humidity 62%, wind 1m/s South East

Men -
1. Nephat Kinyanjui (KEN)  2:11:18
2. Georgiy Andreyev (RUS) 2:11:19
3. Isaac Macharia  (KEN)  2:12:44
4. Mykola Antonenko (UKR)  2:13:28 
5. Gidey Amaha (ETH)   2:15:19
6. Juremieh Mbogo Miano (KEN)   2:15:34
7. Gemechu Woyechu (AUS)   2:15:44
8. Daisuke Fujimoto (JPN)   2:16:30 
9. Hideki Miyama (JPN)   2:17:27
10. Toshiaki Tezuka (JPN)   2:18:26

5Km  - 15:35 - Gidey Amaha
10Km - 30:41 (15:06) - Gidey Amaha
15Km - 46:14 (15:33) - Gidey Amaha
20Km - 1:02:03 (15:49) - Gidey Amaha
25Km - 1:17:35 (15:32) - Gidey Amaha
30Km - 1:33:45 (16:10) - Gidey Amaha
35Km - 1:49:17 (15:32) - Georgiy Andreyev
40Km - 2:04:27 (15:10) - Georgiy Andreyev
Finish - 2:11:18 (6:51) - Nephat Kinyanjui

Women -
1. Albina Ivanova (RUS)  2:28:52
2. Silvia Skvortsova (RUS)  2:29:28
3. Nina Rillstone (NZL)  2:29:46
4. Yoshimi Hoshino (JPN)  2:36:56
5. Atseda Baysa (ETH)  2:39:31
6. Chikako Ogushi (JPN)  2:40:00
7. Risa Mizutani  (JPN)  2:43:24
8. Kaori Takai (JPN)  2:44:40
9. Magda Karimali (GRE)  2:49:03
10. Chiemi Oana (JPN)  2:49:39

5Km - 18:05 - Masako Chiba
10Km - 36:01 (17:56) - Masako Chiba
15Km - 53:56 (17:55) - Silvia Skvortsova
20Km - 1:12:08 (18:12) - Silvia Skvortsova
25Km - 1:29:29 (17:21) - Silvia Skvortsova
30Km - 1:46:56 (17:27) - Albina Ivanova
35Km - 2:03:38 (16:42) - Albina Ivanova
40Km - 2:21:05 (17:27) - Albina Ivanova
Finish - 2:28:52 (7:47) - Albina Ivanova