Leading from wiretowire, Mizuki Noguchi, the defending Olympic Marathon Champion won the Half Marathon division of the 27th annual Miyazaki road race in 1:08:30.
“This is a great way to start the new year," Noguchi said. "I hope to continue the trend.”
Noguchi, who completely dominated the race, was 2:31 ahead of runner-up Marina Haga, who finished in 1:11:01. Hiroko Miyazaki, who is coached by the 1991 World Marathon champion Hiromi Taniguchi, finished third in 1:11:11, while her twin sister Yoko finished ninth in 1:11:56.
The first Kenyan in the race was Ruth Wanjiru, who finished eighth in 1:11:37. Wanjiru runs for the Hitachi track team. The defending champion, Mika Okunaga, who won last year’s race in 1:09:57, was a disappointing 12th in 1:12:49.
The winning time by Noguchi, 1:08:30, was the third fastest time in the history of the race. Two faster times, 1:07:47 and 1:08:22, were also recorded by Noguchi in 2004 and 2002 respectively. Noguchi was reported to be in awesome shape, however strong wind prevented her from challenging her 1:07:43 personal best, or Kayoko Fukushi’s 1:07:26 national record.
Noguchi’s future plan includes running the Flora London Marathon in April, and the Tokyo Women’s Marathon in November to qualify for the Marathon team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Unfortunately, her plan does not include contesting the World Championships Marathon in Osaka in August.
K. Selly Chepyego and Kiragu Pauline Wanguru, Kenyans who run for the Kyudenko Track team, finished first and second respectively in the 5 Km road race division. Chepyego’s winning time, 15:29, is the course record, bettering the previous course record of 15:32 st by Kayoko Fukushi last year.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Half Marathon -
1. Mizuki Noguchi, 1:08:30
2. Marina Haga, 1:11:01
3. Hiroko Miyauchi, 1:11:11
4. Yoko Yagi, 1:11:14
5. Akane Taira, 1:11:20
6. Miho Notagashira, 1:11:22
7. Kayo Sugihara, 1:11:35
8. Ruth Wanjiru (KEN), 1:11:37
9. Yoko Miyauchi, 1:11:56
10. Asami Obi, 1:12:07
11. Yuko Machida, 1:12:31
12. Mika Okunaga, 1:12:49
5 Km -
1. K Selly Chepyego (KEN), 15:29
2. Kiragu Pauline Wanguru (KEN), 15:39
3. Tomomi Yuda, 15:51
4. Megumi Seike, 15:56
5. Yurika Nakamura, 15:56