Breaking away from the lead pack just before 24Km and running alone for the next 18Km, Toshinari Takaoka won today’s 2005 Tokyo International Marathon, Tokyo, Japan, in 2:07:41. It was his first marathon victory in five starts.
Although it was not the national record he had hoped for, it was third successive 2:07 marathon for Takaoka, having run 2:07:59 in the 2003 Fukuoka Marathon and 2:07:50 in the 2004 Chicago Marathon.
Having satisfied the requirement set by the Japan AAF (first Japanese runner in the race with sub-2:09:30 clocking), Takaoka’s win secured a marathon squad slot for the upcoming World Championships in Helsinki.
Finishing second in today’s race more than three minutes behind was Zebedayo Bayo of Tanzania, the defending Tokyo-New York Friendship Tokyo International marathon.
The race unfolds…
Two sets of pacemakers were brought into the race, because Takaoka felt that 15:05 for each 5Km, the pre-determined pace for the pace setters, was too slow. Because Takaoka requested a faster pace, two pace men - Abner Chibu of South Africa and Teodoro Vega of Mexico - were recruited to run the first 5Km in 14:40 followed by 3 minutes for each kilometre until 30Km, while the third pacemaker was going to run 15:05 for each 5Km.
The race started with six runners (Toshinari Takaoka, Akinori Shibutani, Tomohisa Hagino, Nobuyuki Sato and two pace setters) in the front pack, while a third pace maker pulled along Zebedayo Bayo, Tadayuki Tsutsumi, Takashi Horiguchi and Seiji Kushibe.
Falling behind required pace
The lead pack passed the 5Km and 10Km checkpoints in 14:36 and 29:32 respectively, close to the pace Takaoka had asked for but the speed slackened after 10Km. The 11th kilometre was covered in 3:08, followed by 3:03 for the next Km.
As promised before the race, Takaoka stayed behind the paceamkers, despite the slackening pace, and waited for the right moment to break the race open. At around 14Km Takaoka asked for the race pace to increase and it did pick up temporary from 3:05 for 13th and 14th Km to 2:58 for the 15th Km. However, it soon was back to 3:04 for the 16th Km. “I asked the pace setter to keep up the pace, but because of the head wind, it did not work out,” said Takaoka.
The second pack passed 5Km in 15:00, while the third pack, which included Eric Wainaina, passed 5Km in 15:20, which was extremely slow considering that the first 5Km of the course loses about 30m in elevation. While the second pack of five runners passed 15Km in 45:20, the third group led by Wainaina was 55 seconds behind them. The third pack included many other invited runners from abroad – Andre Ramos, Vladimir Tsiamchyk, Sergey Lukin and Henry Tarus.
24km – decisive surge
First to lose contact with the lead pack was Hagino at 15Km. Six Km later Sato, the 1999 World bronze medallist, also fell behind. Then as the pace slacked in the 24th Km (from 3 minutes for the 23rd Km to 3minutes and 9 seconds for the 24th Km), Takaoka took the opportunity to surge away from Shibutani and one of the pace setters. “It may have been little too early, but it was (a move) to win the race,” said Takaoka.
Meanwhile Horiguchi, who was always running with the second pack pace maker was picking off the faltering runners from the lead pack, and eventually, at 26Km, he passed Shibutani to move into the second place.
By 29Km, Takaoka was a minute ahead of the second place Horiguchi. Horiguchi in turn was followed by Sato and then Bayo, who was gaining on them fast. At 30.3Km Bayo passed Sato. 2.4 Kilometres later, Bayo also passed Horiguchi to move up to second place. Both Horiguchi and Sato steady lost ground in the last 10Km and eventually finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Then came the hill…
With each stride, Takaoka pulled further and further ahead. Then the hill began.
“The hill was tough, so I consciously used the (increased) arm motion as I was told to.” Takaoka covered the 5Km from 35Km to 40Km, the section that includes over 30m elevation gain in a span of 3Km, in 15:19. Although it is slower than the 15:09 Gert Thys recorded in his record run of 2:06:33, it should be noted that only handful of runners have ever broken 16 minutes for this 5Km section.
Takaoka covered the last kilometre in 2:59 and won with 2:07:41.
“I was hoping for the faster time, but I am still happy with the time. It was a hard race, but I am happy, for I did not slow down near the end,” confirmed the winner. After breaking away from the pace maker, he had been was able to keep up the average of 3 minutes for each Km until the steep part of the hill.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Assisted by Akihiro Onishi
Weather: Cloudy, temperature 5C, humidity 40%, wind 0.9m/s
Results: JPN unless otherwise noted
1. Toshinari Takaoka 2:07:41
2. Zebedayo Bayo (TAN) 2:10:51
3. Vladimir Tsiamchyk (BLR) 2:14:24
4. Tadayuki Tsutsumi 2:14:37
5. Andre Ramos (BRA) 2:15:37
6. Sergey Lukin (RUS) 2:15:53
7. Takashi Horiguchi 2:16:06
8. Nobuyuki Sato 2:16:18
Splits for the leaders:
10Km 29:32 (14:56)
15Km 44:54 (15:22)
20Km 1:00:20 (15:26)
25Km 1:15:41 (15:21)
30Km 1:30:42 (15:01)
35Km 1:45:43 (15:01)
40Km 2:01:02 (15:19)