Japan’s Ryoko Kizaki won the 2011 Yokohama International Women’s Marathon today (20), the first of the domestic Olympic qualifying race but because of the unseasonably warm weather, temperature rising above 24C, the winning time was relatively slow 2:26:32, and so it is not clear if Kizaki will be selected for the Olympic marathon team.
The Yokohama International Women’s Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.
“I almost gave up when Ozaki made her move with 2Km to go, but I kept telling myself not to give up until the last 100m,” said Kizaki, who was 14th in 2009 and 10th in 2010 World Half Marathon Championships.
The first kilometre was covered in 3:21 under sunny skies and in unseasonably warm weather. Before 5km (17:00) Chika Horie lost contact with the leaders, and the lead pack was reduced to six (Yoshimi Ozaki, Ryoko Kizaki, Kaoru Nagao, Salina Kosgei, Robe Guta and Hiroko Miyauchi) runners (plus three pace makers). Mara Yamauchi, who covered the first 5km in 17:11, was running seventh (not counting pace makers), while Kaori Yoshida passed fading Horie to move up to eighth.
Then before 10Km (34:06) Volha Krautsova, one of the pace makers started to drift back, leaving two pacers responsible to cover each 5km under 17 min, and at 12Km, the race lost another pace maker, Shoko Mori, leaving only Albina Mayorova in the pacing duty. Salina Kosgei also fell behind leaving Ozaki, Nagao, Kizaki, Robe Guta and Hiroko Miyauchi in front. This pack led by Mayorova (pace maker), covered the first 15Km in 51:08, and around the same point Mara Yamauchi passed Kosgei.
The temperature on the course has climbed to 24.6C around this time, and as 19km was reached, the final pace maker dropped out and the real racing started prematurely, as the original plan had called for the pace makers to lead the race until 25Km.
Kizaki led the race followed by Ozaki and Nagao, but the pace had slackened dramatically; the 20km split was 1:08:45 (last 5km in 17:37), and the half marathon split was 1:12:42, more than a minute and half slower than the plan. As the pace slowed down, Yamauchi started to gain on the leaders and around 22km, she joined the leaders and then about Km later, she started to lead the race.
Then first Miyauchi and then Guta (around 26Km) lost contact with the leaders, leaving four runners in front.
After 25km (1:26:41, last 5Km in 17:56), thanks to Yamauchi, the leaders’ pace has increased. The 30km was passed in 1:43:59 (last 5km in 17:18). Then at 31km, Nagao took her sun glasses-off and took the lead but her lead was short-lived and soon Yamauchi was back in pole and Nagao started to drift back very fast.
Three runners – Yamauchi, Ozaki and Kizaki – passed 35Km (2:01:34, last 5Km in 17:35) together and stayed together until 39Km at which point Kizaki took over the lead to push the pace, and it was Yamauchi’s moment to drift back.
Ozaki covered Kizaki’s move without much trouble, and after passing 40km in 2:19:17, made her own attack. Kizaki made a valiant effort to stay close to Ozaki. She slowly reeled Ozaki back and by 41.6Km, Kizaki caught Ozaki and immediately made her own attack which left Ozaki, 2009 World Championships silver medallist, behind for good. Kizaki won by 17 seconds.
Ozaki, pre-race favorite finished second in 2:26:49, which probably means her Olympic dreams are dashed, while Yamauchi, finished third in 2:27:24. Since only Paula Radcliffe has run faster among British women this year, it may be safe to assume that Yamauchi has made the British Olympic team.
Kaoru Nagao, who tried to break the race open at 31Km, finished fourth with 2:29:43.
Two more Olympic qualifying races – Osaka in January and Nagoya in March – are scheduled next year, and some of the biggest names in Japan will be vying for the Olympic team slots. Mizuki Noguchi, the 2004 Olympic champion, who recently made strong showing in Ekiden, will run Osaka, while the Asian half marathon record holder, Kayoko Fukushi, who was third in Chicago last month, will run either Osaka or Nagoya. The race in Osaka and Nagoya are expected to be faster than the today’s race in Yokohama especially because of two unfortunate incidents beyond the control of Kizaki; they may prevent her from making the Olympic team. First, today’s race was run under unseasonably warm weather, and second, the three pace makers who were asked to run till 25Km all dropped out before 19Km. Both factors contributed to slow winning time in Yokohama.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Weather at the start: Sunny; temperature: 22.4C Humidity: 54%; Wind: 1.9m/sNNE
1) Ryoko Kizaki 2:26:32
2) Yoshimi Ozaki 2:26:49
3) Mara Yamauchi (GBR) 2:27:24
4) Kaoru Nagao 2:29:43
5) Rene Kalmer 2:29:59
6) Robe Guta (ETH) 2:32:26
7) Kaori Yoshida 2:33:14
8) Mayumi Fujita 2:35:12
9) Salina Kosgei (KEN) 2:35:26
10) Kateryna Stetsenko (UKR) 2:35:44
10Km 34:06 (17:06)
15Km 51:08 (17:02)
20Km 68:45 (17:37)
25Km 1:26:41 (17:56)
30Km 1:43:59 (17:18)
35Km 2:01:34 (17:35)
40Km 2:19:17 (17:43)
Finish: 2:26:32 (7:15)