Dickson Chumba of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Berhane Dibaba captured convincing victories at the Tokyo Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (25).
Dickson, who won here in 2015, clocked 2:05:30 to take his second Tokyo title while Dibaba joined the sub-2:20 club with her 2:19:51 run to also capture her second Tokyo crown. Both runners became the first man and woman to ever win a second Tokyo Marathon title.
Chumba’s winning time was the second fastest in race history, behind the course record of 2:03:58 set by Wilson Kipsang last year.
“Although I missed cracking 2:05, I am happy with the time,” Chumba said. “Next year, I would like to come back and run a 2:04.”
The race did not start as quickly as last year, when runners covered the opening five-kilometre stretch in 14:15. Instead, it was a more reasonable 14:47, with later splits of 29:38 at 10 kilometres and 44:36 at 15. They were fast, but not fast enough for the world record pace planned for Kipsang who began to drift back at the 15-kilometre water station. About a kilometre-and-a-half later, Kipsang’s pace was reduced to a walk before he eventually dropped out.
The midway point was reached in 1:02:44 and 30 kilometres in 1:29:20. With the pacesetters’ duties completed, Chumba began to force the pace. The Kenyan, along with compatriots Amos Kipruto and Gideon Kipketer, covered the next five kilometres in 14:51. But when he further increased the tempo, he was soon left completely alone. But he but didn't let up. Chumba covered the 35-40 kilometre segment in 14:44 --nobody else managed it in under 15 minutes-- before reaching the finish for his convincing win.
Japanese record for Shitara
Seventh at 35 kilometres, Yuta Shitara roared back to second soon after the 40th kilometre to finish second in 2:06:11, breaking Toshinari Takaoka’s Japanese national record of 2:06:16 set in 2002. For the local crowd and observers, Shitara’s accomplishment was significant, with the applause as he crossed the finish line heard far and wide.
Shitara, 26, is now the first Japanese man to simultaneously hold the national records in both the marathon and half marathon. Takaoka, who witnessed his record being broken, offered an analysis. “I think one of the big factors (of why he broke the record) is that Shitara was able to run close to the leaders all the way to the end.”
Amos Kipruto was third with 2:06:33, Gideon Kipketer fourth with 2:06:47 and Hiroto Inoue was fifth in 2:06:54. In all, five runners broke 2:07 and ten broke 2:09, both records for a marathon in Japan. Previously, four broke 2:07 in both the 2014 and 2017 Tokyo Marathons while nine broke 2:09 in both of those editions.
As the top six Japanese finishers, Shitara, Inoue, Ryo Kiname, Chihiro Miyawaki, Kenji Yamamoto and Yuki Sato all qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. Signalling a change in Japanese marathon fortunes, Kiname, Miyawaki, Yamamoto and Sato all produced the first sub-2:10 clockings of their careers.
In the women’s race, Dibaba’s winning time of 2:19:51 was also the second fastest time in race history, behind the 2:19:47 course record Sara Chepchirchir set last year. Dibaba also became the 26th runner to crack 2:20 for the distance.
By 20 kilometres, the lead pack was reduced to four runners --Dibaba, her compatriots Ruti Aga and Shure Demise, and Amy Cragg of the US. Demise began to drift back, leaving a trio in contention 10 kilometres later.
Cragg was the next to drop back after Dibaba’s 16:26 split between kilometres 30 and 35. The next five kilometres were even faster at 16:22, dropping Ruti.
“The weather was great and my leg also felt great,” said Dibaba, whose previous best was 2:21:19 set in Tokyo last year. “At 35km I thought I could win this race.”
Aga held on for second in 2:21:19 with Cragg crossing the line third in 2:21:42, slicing more than five minutes from her previous personal best. Aga’s time equalled the third fastest performance in race history while Cragg’s was the sixth fastest.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF