By David Monti
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
TOKYO (24-Feb) — Battling cold and windy conditions, Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto and Ethiopia’s Aberu Kebede emerged as winners of today’s Tokyo Marathon here. Kimetto, who was the runner-up at last September’s BMW Berlin Marathon and is the world 25-K record holder, ran a superb second half to set a new course record of 2:06:50. Kebede struggled with the wind in the second half, but her winning time of 2:25:34 fell only six seconds short of the course record. A record 36,201 runners entered the race, now part of the World Marathon Majors series.
The men’s contest started conservatively with the pacemakers running the first 5 kilometers in a restrained 15:15, and halfway in 1:04:22. Although skies were bright, athletes were feeling the strong winds combined with the 7-degree (45F) temperatures and were holding back.
“I tried to conserve energy to 30-K and go with whoever was there,” said Japan’s Kazuhiro Maeda who stayed tucked in the big lead pack of 25 runners.
The pack stayed together until the 29th kilometer when Kenya’s tiny James Kwambai –just 48 kg– broke the race open with a 2:55 kilometer, followed by a 2:48. Kimetto, Michael and Bernard Kipyego, and Gilbert Kirwa followed. Kwambai continued to push the pace, but later said that breaking the wind was sapping his strength.
“My body is very light, so I can’t resist [the wind],” he told Race Results Weekly.
Kimetto saw his chance to try for the victory, and pushed ahead. Running with his left arm awkwardly angling away from his body, Kimetto put the hammer down, running 14:20 from 30 to 35-K. That gave him a 5-second lead over defending champion Michael Kipyego, his nearest challenger who soon realized that he was running for second. Kimetto’s lead only grew on his way to the blustery waterfront finish at Tokyo Big Sight, where he completed his second half in a swift 62:28. Michael Kipyego clocked a personal best 2:06:58 in second, and Bernard Kipyego got third in 2:07:53.
Behind the top-3, Maeda was giving the huge Japanese television audience something to cheer about. Unlike is compatriots who wilted in the second half, Maeda was only getting stronger. He was in seventh position at 35-K, managed to increase his pace and started passing people.
“I was quite surprised I could move up to my position late in the race,” he told reporters.
He would ultimately move up to fourth place by the finish line, and was timed in 2:08-flat, one second short of the required time by the Japanese federation for automatic selection for the world championships team. However, he is very likely to be selected because three men would have to run faster than him at next Sunday’s Lake Biwa Marathon, the third and final selection race.
The women’s race started more aggressively than the men’s. Japan’s Azusa Nojiri was the early leader, hitting 15-K in 50:21 with only Kebede and 2011 Boston Marathon champion Caroline Kilel for company. Nojiri would fall back by the halfway point, where only Kebede and Kilel were in the lead running a solid 1:11:50.
The second half was not kind to Kilel. She slowed badly, eventually finishing 21st in 2:47:08. But Ethiopia’s Yeshi Esayias, who was 16 seconds back at halfway, had a great second half. She moved up steadily, and by the 25-K mark had caught Kebede. The final break came for Kebede between 35 and 40-K when she used a very tall male runner, Junichi Sugiyama, as a windshield to get her through the final kilometers. Esayias had to settle for second in 2:26:01, while 40 seconds back Germany’s Irina Mikitenko set a new world masters (40+) record in third (2:26:41). Albina Mayorova, last year’s Nagoya Marathon champion, finished fourth in 2:26:51.
For Japan’s Yoshimi Ozaki, the 2009 IAAF World Championships silver medalist, today’s race was bitter sweet. She told the media on Friday that she would take a break from competition after this race and that it would likely be her retirement race. She ran a credible 2:28:30 to finish fifth, and when asked if this would be her last high level marathon, the 31 year-old athlete said: “Maybe.”
TOP RESULTS (More detailed results in tomorrow’s Race Results Weekly):
MEN (gun times) –
1. Dennis Kimetto, KEN 2:06:50 CR* JPY 11,000,000* (=USD 117,748)
[1:04:22 / 1:02:28]
2. Michael Kipyego, KEN 2:06:58 PB 4,000,000
[1:04:23 / 1:02:35]
3. Bernard Kipyego, KEN 2:07:53 2,000,000
4. Kazuhiro Maeda, JPN 2:08:00 PB 1,000,000
[1:04:24 / 1:03:36]
5. James Kwambai, KEN 2:08:02 750,000
6. Gilbert Kirwa, KEN 2:08:17 500,000
7. Feyisa Bekele, ETH 2:09:05 400,000
8. Dino Sefir, ETH 2:09:13 300,000
9. Takayuki Matsumiya, JPN 2:09:14 PB 200,000
10. Jonathan Maiyo, KEN 2:10:18 100,000
*Course record/JPY 3,000,000 bonus; previous 2:07:23, Viktor Röthlin (SUI), 2007
WOMEN (gun times) –
1. Aberu Kebede, ETH 2:25:34 JPY 8,000,000 (=USD 85,635)
[1:11:50 / 1:13:44]
2. Yeshi Esayias, ETH 2:26:01 4,000,000
[1:12:06 / 1:13:55]
3. Irina Mikitenko, 1972, GER 2:26:41 WR W40^ 2,000,000
4. Albina Mayorova, RUS 2:26:51 1,000,000
5. Yoshimi Ozaki, JPN 2:28:30 750,000
6. Helalia Johannes, NAM 2:29:20 500,000
7. Mika Yoshikawa, JPN 2:30:20 DB 400,000
8. Nastassia Staravoitava, BLR 2:30:45 300,000
9. Azusa Nojiri, JPN 2:31:15 200,000
[1:12:06 / 1:19:09]
10. Hiroko Yoshitomi, JPN 2:31:28 PB 100,000
^W40 world record; previous 2:26:51, Priscilla Welch (GBR), London, 10-May-1987