Yoshimi Ozaki of Japan crosses the finish line to take the silver medal in the women's Marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News

Ndungu and Cheyech win All Japan Corporate team Half Marathon titles

Kenyans Samuel Ndungu and Filomena Cheyech won their respective titles at the 38th annual All Japan Corporate team Half Marathon Championships in Yamaguchi on Sunday (21).

Ndunga won the men’s division with 1:01:19 while Cheyech, the defending champion, retained her title in 1:09:01.

The men’s defending champion Joseph Gitau finished second 24 seconds behind in the men’s race, while the World Championships marathon silver medallist Yoshimi Ozaki finished second 65 seconds behind the winner in the women’s division.

“I wanted to run a fast time today,” Ozaki said. “So it was good that I was able to run with my own pace in the first half, but because the wind was just too strong in the last half the time was not very good.  In the upcoming London marathon, I hope to run the first 20 to 30Km with a pace similar to the first half today, so, I need to build more speed endurance.”

The day was sunny and temperature was an ideal 11 C, but the wind was just too strong for a fast time.  To make things worse, the wind was mostly from behind in the first half but a head wind in the last half.

In the men’s race, Kenyans living in Japan took the first four spots, while Akihiro Tsumurai, who courageously went out with the Kenyans was rewarded with a fifth place finish as well as a personal best of 1:01:58, despite the less than ideal condition.  In the women’s race, seven more runners broke 1:11 behind Cheyech and Ozaki. 

Because this race is one of the selection races for the World Half Marathon championships, the first Japanese – Tsumirai and Ozaki – earned their team spots.

How the race unfolded:

Men -

A huge pack covered the first kilometre in a fast 2:49. By 5Km (14:27), three Kenyans (Cyrus Njui, Gitau, and Ndungu) along with Akihiko Tsumurai broke away, followed by two Kenyans some 20-30 metres behind, who in turn were 20 to 30 metres ahead of the Japanese chase pack. The pace was quite fast, more than 20 seconds faster than course record pace.

Just before 10Km (28:33), Ndungu broke away from the group of four and led Gitau by four seconds, who was running ahead of Tsumurai and Njui .  The 15Km split stayed relatively fast 43:08 for Ndungu, but then strong head wind slowed the entire field considerably. It took Ndungu took almost 15 minutes to cover 15 to 20Km. Although Ndungu slowed to 3:13 for the last 1.0975Km, he was never threatened and won comfortably.  

Women -
Cheyech, the defending champion, led from the start, and by 2Km (6:20), had already more than  a 10 metre gap on two runners from Dai-ichi Life, Ozaki and Katsumata, who in turn were several metres ahead of the chase pack.  With each step, Cheyech extended her lead over Ozaki, who in turn was slowly moving away from her team-mate Katsumata.

Cheyech passed 5Km in 15:48, followed by Ozaki in 16:08.  Cheyech passed 10Km in 31:43 while Ozaki fell further behind. Cheyech continued to extend her lead and by 15Km (48:20), she was more than a minute ahead. Cheyech defended her title comfortably, although she fell shy of the course and her personal best. 

Leading results –
Weather: Sunny; temperature:11.3C, humidity:31%, wind: 5.6m/s West
1. Samuel Ndungu (KEN)  1:01:19  (14:27, 28:33 (14:06), 43:08 (14:35), 58:06 (14:58))
2. Joseph Gitau (KEN)  1:01:43 (14:27, 28:37, 43:23, 58:28)
3. Harun Njoroge (KEN)  1:01:53
4. Cyrus Njui (KEN)  1:01:56
5. Akihiko Tsumurai 1:01:58
6.  Samuel Nganga (KEN) 1:02:43
7.  Takayuki Matsumiya 1:02:45
8.  Kazuyoshi Shimozato  1:02:50
9. Toshinori Kitajima 1:02:50 

1. Filomena Cheyech (KEN) 1:09:01  (15:48, 31:43 (15:55), 48:20, ?)
2. Yoshimi Ozaki  1:10:06 (16:08, 32:33 (16:25), 49:27,?)
3. Kaoru Nagao 1:10:45
4. Megumi Seike 1:10:47
5. Yuko Shoi 1:10:48
6. Madoka Ogi  1:10:49
7. Shino Saito 1:10:51
8. Yuri Takamizawa 1:10:53
9. Misaki Katsumata 1:10:58 

Doricah wins Matsue Ladies Half Marathon

Matsue Ladies Half Marathon was held on the same day, several hundred kilometres from Yamaguchi. The race like the one in Yamaguchi was also marred with strong winds. Obare Doricah of Kenya and Hitachi went out fast from the start and won in 1:10:53, while Yukiko Akaba finished second in 1:11:09.  This was Akaba’s first race since dropping out of the  Osaka Ladies Marathon in the end of January. Like Yoshimi Ozaki, who finished second in Yamaguchi, Akaba is preparing for the London Marathon.

Weather:  Rain, temperature: 8.7C; humidity: 57%, wind 11.7m/s West
Leading results -
1.  Obare Doricah (KEN)   1:10:53  (16:44, 34:16, 50:20, 67:21)
2.  Yukiko Akaba    1:11:09  (17:01, 35:01, 50:41, 67:45)
3.  Aki Otagiri    1:13:05

Ken Nakamura assisted by Akihiro Onishi for the IAAF