Mika Okunaga, who won the Oume 30Km road race last February, won the 26th annual Miyazaki Women’s Half Marathon (5-January) in 1:09:57. It was her first win at the Miyazaki Half Marathon; in her previous appearance in 2004, she was a distant 17th in 1:12:01. It was a notable improvement for Okunaga, whose previous personal best was 1:10:21.
The race began with 55 runners, with a large pack of 24 runners passing 5Km in 16:40. The pack was reduced to 17 in the next five kilometers, with the pace gradually picking up between kilometers 10 and 20, leaving six runners in contention by 20Km (1:06:32): Okunaga, Jane Wanjiku, Ruth Wanjiru, Yoko Yagi, Yoko Miyauchi and Madoka Ogi.
With one kilometre go, Okunaga surged away to win six seconds. Taking second in 1:10:03 was Wanjiku, with Wanjiru a second behind. Lidia Simon of Romania, who will be running the upcoming Osaka Ladies Marathon, lost contact soon after the half way, and finished a disappointing 13th.
Several runners in the field will be running in the Osaka Ladies Marathon in three weeks: in addition to Okunaga and Simon, Kiyoko Shimahara and Kayoko Obata, who finished seventh and eighth respectively, will also compete in Osaka.
In the accompanying 5Km road race, Kayoko Fukushi, the National record holder at 3000m and 5000m, won in 15:32.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Leading Results -
1. Mika Okunaga (JPN) 1:09:57
2. Jane Wanjiku (KEN) 1:10:03
3. Ruth Wanjiru (KEN) 1:10:04
4. Yoko Miyauchi (JPN) 1:10:04
5. Yoko Yagi (JPN) 1:10:06
6. Madoka Ogi (JPN) 1:10:11
7. Kiyoko Shimahara (JPN) 1:10:16
8. Kayoko Obata (JPN) 1:11:00
9. Miho Notagashira (JPN) 1:11:07
10. Mayumi Fujita (JPN) 1:11:11
11. Ayumi Hayashi (JPN) 1:11:33
12. Maya Nishio (JPN) 1:11:49
13. Lidia Simon (ROM) 1:11:57
14. Miho Takematsu (JPN) 1:11:57
15. Chiharu Matsuo (JPN) 1:12:00