Britain’s Mara Yamauchi wins the 2008 Osaka Ladies Marathon (Kazutaka Eguchi/Agence SHOT) © Copyright
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Mogusu and Yamauchi triumph in Marugame Half Marathon

Kenya’s Mekubo Mogusu and Britain’s Mara Yamauchi won men’s and women’s division, respectively at the 63rd annual Marugame Half Marathon, Japan, on Sunday morning, 1 February.

For Britain’s Yamauchi, her winning time, 1:08:29, was a personal best by 16 seconds. Her previous personal best, 1:08:45, was recorded in the 2007 Sapporo Half Marathon. 

Yamauchi took the lead right away and passed 1Km in 3:07.  She continued to run aggressively and passed 5Km in blazing 15:55.  She slowed somewhat but still passed 10Km in a respectable 32:04 (16:09), 15Km in 48:30 (16:26), and 20Km in 1:04:52 (16:22), and won comfortably by 53 seconds over Yuri Kano. 

“I am very happy. I like to thank fans for cheering me,” said Yamauchi after the race. When asked about her personal best, said Yamauchi, “perhaps it was because I ate Sanuki Udon (noodles, a famous local delicacy) yesterday.” 

Reiko Tosa was fourth in 1:10:58.  She will be running her final marathon in Tokyo before retiring from elite competition.  Naoko Takahashi  the 2000 Olympic Marathon champion, who has already retired from elite competition ran as a guest. She completed the course in 1:26:18.  She will also be a guest runner at upcoming Nagoya Women’s Marathon. 

Hoping for 59:15 half marathon, Mekubo Mogusu took the lead right away and only fellow Kenyans, Daniel Gitau and Daniel Mwangi, went with him. The first Kilometre was passed in 2:47, and the second in 2:50 and soon Mwangi was left behind.   Mogusu continued to push the pace, while Gitau, who had said “I will stay with Mogusu,” in the pre-race press conference, was running just behind him.

The 5Km split was 14:09, by which point it was hard to see the runners behind them as they were that far adrift. Mogusu and Gitau were 51 seconds ahead of Mwangi at 5Km.  With Mogusu always in front of Gitau, 10 Km check point was passed in 28:21, and the gap to third place grew to a minute and 24 seconds.  The 15km split was 42:48. The duel continued until around 16.5Km where Mogusu started to pull away from Gitau.  Mogusu passed 20Km in 57:24, by which point Gitau fell behind by almost a minute, and in the end Mogusu won comfortably with a time of 1:00:37, 57 seconds ahead of Gitau. 

Six runners came into the stadium and battle it out for the third place.  Atsushi Sato, the national half marathon record holder, started his kick on the back straight and finished third with 1:02:24.  He is planning to enter London Marathon. Five other runners finished within six seconds of Sato.  

After the race Mogusu said, "I am happy to win.  This is my final race as a collegian."

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF

Weather: Cloudy  temperature 6.9C  humidity  49%  wind NW 1.0m/s

1. Mekubo Mogusu (KEN)  1:00:37
2. Daniel Gitau  (KEN) 1:01:34
3. Atsushi Sato 1:02:24
4. Satoru Kitamura 1:02:26
5. Makoto Tobimatsu 1:02:26
6. Tomoaki Bungo 1:02:27
7. Kentaro Nakamoto 1:02:29
8. Sota Hoshi  1:02:30  

1. Mara Yamauchi (GBR)  1:08:29
2. Yuri Kano 1:09:22
3. Yoshiko Fujinaga 1:10:24
4. Reiko Tosa  1:10:58
5. Yumi Hirata 1:11:18
6. Rieko Sakane 1:11:29
7. Kaori Urata  1:11:35
8. Yoshie Uehashi 1:11:39