Gert Thys (RSA) (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Thys notches a comfortable win at Beppu-Oita Marathon

Gert Thys of South Africa won the 55th BeppuOita Mainichi Marathon in Oita, Japan, clocking 2:09:45.

It was the second victory at this race for Thys, who previously won in 1996 when he set the course record of 2:08:30.

The real racing started after 25 kilometres when the contenders were separated from the pretenders. Thys broke away soon after 30Km after covering the five kilometres stretch between kilometers 30 and 35 in 15:07. Running the rest of the way alone, Thys won easily, more than two minutes ahead of Tomoyuki Sato, who clocked 2:11:46.

Kenyan Benjamin Kipchumba was third in 2:13:11.

A lead group of 15, including a trio of pace makers, was formed by kilometre five, and ran together until just beyond the midway point. At 25Km, Kiyotaka Shimamura was the first casualty, soon followed by Jason Mbote. After kilometre 29, when Benson Cherono upped the tempo, Takayuki Nishida, Kodai  Fukunaga, Ombeche Mokamba, Toshiaki Tezuka, Mohamed Ouaadi, Yohei Sato and Takehisa Okino lost contact with the leaders in succession. 

When Cherono dropped out of the race after 30Km, just four runners remained. Thys maintained the pace, thinning the pack.  Running alone, Thys injected a 2:59 split between the 32nd and 33rd kilometers, and built a lead of over a minute by the 35th kilometre.

“I am very happy with the win,” Thys said. “I was trying to improve the course record I set 10 years ago, but unfortunately wind was the problem, especially during the later stage of the race.”

The runner-up finish for Sato signaled a resurrection for the Asahi Kasei team, considered a Marathon powerhouse in Japan in the 1980s and 1990s.  Hiromi Taniguchi won the 1991 World Championships, while Koichi Morishita won a silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games; both ran for Asahi Kasei. The team sent two runners to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but has been struggling since.  

Ken Nakamura with assistance from Akihiro Onishi for the IAAF

Results (weather 5.8C, humidity 39%, wind 2.8m/s NNE):
1. Gert Thys, RSA, 2:09:45
2. Tomoyuki Sato, 2:11:46
3. Benjamin Kipchumba, KEN, 2:13:11
4. Yohei Sato, 2:13:18
5. Mohamed Ouaadi, FRA, 2:13:23
6. Takehisa Okino, 2:14:52
7. Kentaro Ito, 2:15:42
8. Noriyuki Mizuguchi, 2:16:05
9. Kodai Fukunaga, 2:16:48
10. Ombeche Mokamba, KEN, 2:17:37 

Split for the leaders:
5Km  15:21
10Km  30:14     (14:53)
15Km  45:24    (15:10)
20Km  1:00:43  (15:19)
25Km  1:16:14  (15:31)
30Km  1:31:38  (15:23)
35Km  1:46:45  (15:07)
40Km  2:02:28  (15:43)
Finish  2:09:45  (7:17)

Splits for Thys:
5Km  15:21
10Km  30:15      (14:54) 
15Km  45:24    (15:09)
20Km  1:00:44    (15:20)
Half  1:04:06    
25Km  1:16:15   (15:31)
30Km  1:31:38   (15:23)
35Km  1:46:45   (15:07)
40Km  2:02:28   (15:43)
Finish  2:09:45   (7:17)