Commonwealth champion Helalia Johannes (marathon world rank: 53) won the Nagoya Women’s Marathon on Sunday (10), smashing own Namibian record at the IAAF Gold Label road race with 2:22:25.
The pace makers kept a fast and steady pace and each of the five-kilometre segments up to 25km was covered under 17 minutes. The leaders covered the first five kilometres in 16:53, 10 kilometres in 33:44, 15 kilometres in 50:43, 20 kilometres in 1:07:35 and the half way point in 1:11:17.
After passing 25 kilometres in 1:24:31, the pacemakers dropped out at 30 kilometres (1:41:34) and the real racing started. Visiline Jepkesho (marathon world rank: 13) and Valary Jemeli Aiyabei (marathon world rank: 11) surged ahead and Defar briefly tried to go with them but was unable to keep up with the Kenyans and fell behind.
Jepkesho made a couple of attempts to move ahead of Jemeli between 33 and 38 kilometres, while Johannes slowly worked her way up to catch Jemeli just before 39 kilometres, and then passed Jepkesho a couple of minutes later.
The 38-year-old went on to win in 2:22:25, taking three-and-a-half minutes off the national record she set when finishing 11th at the 2012 Olympic Games. Jepkesho followed in 2:22:58, three seconds ahead of Aiyabei (2:23:01).
“I had stomach problem at about 25 kilometres, but I was able to gut it out,” said Johannes.
In just her second marathon, two-time Olympic 5000m champion Defar took nearly four minutes off her previous best to finish fourth in 2:23:33.
In fifth, Japan’s Reiwa Iwade improved her personal best by more than 30 seconds. “I was so happy to be the first Japanese in the race,” said Iwade, who passed Kayoko Fukushi just before 41 kilometres. “My problem was that I could not change the pace at 30km. I need to work harder.”
Iwade has already qualified for the Marathon Grand Championships (MGC), Japan’s Olympic marathon team trials, but the next five Japanese finishers – Fukushi, Miyuki Uehara, Sairi Maeda, Mizuki Tanimoto, and Ayano Ikemitsu – all qualified for the MGC, bringing the total number of qualifiers to 14.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
1 Helalia Johannes (NAM) 2:22:25
2 Visiline Jepkesho (KEN) 2:22:58
3 Valary Jemeli Aiyabei (KEN) 2:23:01
4 Meseret Defar (ETH) 2:23:33
5 Reia Iwade (JPN) 2:23:52
6 Monica Jepkoesh (KEN) 2:23:59
7 Sara Dossena (ITA) 2:24:00
8 Kayoko Fukushi (JPN) 2:24:09
9 Miyuki Uehara (JPN) 2:24:19
Bounasr leads three inside 2:08 at Lake Biwa Marathon
Salah Eddine Bounasr (marathon world rank: 36) outkicked Asefa Tefera and Stephen Mokoka (marathon world rank: 17) in the final stages of the Lake Biwa Marathon in Otsu to win the IAAF Gold Label road race in a PB of 2:07:52.
The Moroccan improved his previous best by more than a minute and a half to win by a narrow margin of four seconds.
As is often the case, the Lake Biwa Marathon turned into a race of attrition. The leaders covered five kilometres in 15:16, 10 kilometres in 30:24, 15 kilometres in 45:39, 20 kilometres in 1:00:58 and the half marathon in 1:04:14. The large lead pack was reduced to approximately 30 runners by 25 kilometres (1:16:04).
After the pacemakers left the race at 30 kilometres (1:31:07), Deriba Robi (marathon world rank: 52) started to push the pace. Eight runners passed 35 kilometres in 1:46:17, but by 40 kilometres the race was down to five runners: Bounasr, Tefera, Mokoka, Benson Seurei and Robi.
Bounasr eventualy emerged as the winner in 2:07:52, the fastest winning time since 2012. Tefera was second in a PB of 2:07:56, while Mokoka was third in 2:07:58, the second-best time of his career.
Seurei was fourth (2:08:08) and Robi fifth (2:08:11), while Tanzania’s Alphonce Simbu set a PB of 2:08:27 in sixth.
Kenji Yamamoto, the top Japanese finisher, set a PB of 2:08:42 to place seventh. Boston Marathon champion Yuki Kawauchi, in his last race before turning professional, was eighth in 2:09:21, the 13th sub-2:10 clocking of his career.
If selected for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, Kawauchi will skip the Marathon Grand Championships (MGC), Japan’s Olympic marathon team trials.
Both Yamamoto and Kawauchi have already qualified for the MGC. The next two Japanese finishers in today’s race, Hiroyuki Yamamoto (10th, 2:10:33) and Daiji Kawai (11th, 2:10:50), have now qualified for the MGC, bringing the total number of qualifiers to 30.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
1 Salah Eddine Bounasr (MAR) 2:07:52
2 Asefa Tefera (ETH) 2:07:56
3 Stephen Mokoka (RSA) 2:07:58
4 Benson Seurei (BRN) 2:08:08
5 Deriba Robi (ETH) 2:08:11
6 Alphonce Felix Simbu (TAN) 2:08:27
7 Kenji Yamamoto (JPN) 2:08:42
8 Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 2:09:21