Skip to main content

Koide Prescient: Yurika Nakamura Wins Nagoya in 2:25:51 Debut

by Brett Larner

Of all the scenarios forecast for the final selection race for the Japanese women's marathon team at the Beijing Olympics, run today at the Nagoya International Women's Marathon, few included 21 year old first-time marathoner Yurika Nakamura of Team Tenmaya. A longshot with a half marathon PB of only 1:10:03, Nakamura's sole vote of confidence came from a knowledgeable source, legendary coach Yoshio Koide. Koide had picked Nakamura as the most likely contender after Sydney Olympics gold medalist Naoko Takahashi. Takahashi faded after only 9 km, but with an extremely slow and tactical 1st half of 1:14:43 it looked as though the winner would be irrelevant as the time needed to make the Beijing Olympics, faster than the 2:25:34 run by Tenmaya's Tomo Morimoto in January's Osaka International Women's Marathon, was all but out of reach.

Nakamura had other ideas. After Team Shiseido's Yumi Hirata and Harumi Hiroyama pushed the pace in the 2nd half, most of the big names launched a series of attacks. First went two-time World Championships entrant Yumiko Hara at the 25 km mark, dropping Kiyoko Shimahara and Megumi Oshima from the lead pack. Next Athens Olympics team member Naoko Sakamoto opened a gap on the pack after the 28.6 km turnaround point, with only Yoshimi Ozaki following. Four runners caught back up, and the lead pack was down to six. Chika Horie was the next to make a move, trying to get away at the 31.7 km point. Yuri Kano, Ozaki and Nakamura followed, with Hara and Sakamoto falling away.

All of this was just a lead up to Nakamura's move at 32.6 km. She definitively dropped the rest of the field, recording a 5k split of 16:31 from 30 to 35 km and another of 16:44 between 35 and 40 km. It was clear with 2.195 km to go that Morimoto's time would be hard for her to reach, but she did all that was possible. She ran 7:13 over the final stretch to win in 2:25:51, a 1:11:08 2nd half but 16 seconds short of Morimoto's time.

Nakamura's fate is now in the hands of Rikuren, the governing body of Japanese Track and Field. Morimoto ran a faster time in Osaka but finished 2nd a short distance behind winner Mara Yamauchi of the U.K. Nakamura won in a slower time but in a far more impressive performance which accurately simulated the early strategic style of race which often occurs in Olympic and championship events. Only one of the two runners will be selected for the team when Rikuren announces its decision tomorrow, Mar. 10. The irony is that the two rivals for the Olympic Team are otherwise teammates at Tenmaya.

Beyond the Olympic Team outcome, Nagoya was significant in that a new generation came out on top. While Yuri Kano and Yumiko Hara, two of the brightest prospects to emerge in recent years, came 3rd and 4th, the top two slots were taken by younger first-time marathoners, Nakamura and Yoshimi Ozaki. Despite not being part of the elite field, each recorded a 7:13 final 2.195 km, the fastest in the field and competitive even by men's standards. Regardless of whether Nakamura is selected for Beijing, these two runners will be welcome additions to the Japanese marathoning scene.

Takahashi, on the other hand, made what may well be her final elite performance. After showing difficulty as early as the 5 km point despite the slow opening split of 17:53, she dropped away from the leaders but continued on relatively consistently to a 27th place 2:44:18 finish, her slowest time ever. To Takahashi's credit, her decision to soldier on to the finish showed that her motto is more to her than just words. All the best to her hereafter.

Top 10 Results
1. Yurika Nakamura: 2:25:51 (debut)
2. Yoshimi Ozaki: 2:26:19 (debut)
3. Yuri Kano: 2:26:39
4. Yumiko Hara: 2:27:14
5. Chika Horie: 2:27:16
6. Megumi Oshima: 2:29:03
7. Yumi Hirata: 2:29:23 (debut)
8. Maya Nishio: 2:29:34 (PB)
9. Harumi Hiroyama: 2:29:50
10. Naoko Sakamoto: 2:30:21

Complete results are available here.

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Takes Six Minutes Off Kitakyushu Marathon Course Record to Lead Weekend Results

After a seven-week break from the marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) scored his third-straight marathon win, second-straight course record and came just shy of a third-straight negative split as he ran a completely solo 2:11:46 to take almost six minutes off the Kitakyushu Marathon course record. Following up on negative split wins at December's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and January's Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, the latter a course record by half an hour, Kawauchi was on his own in the first 100 m in Kitakyushu and never looked back.

In the hilly first 10 km his pace fluctuated from high-2:12 to high-2:10, but once Kawauchi got into the flatter section of the course he settled out on track for a high-2:11 to low-2:12 time. After a 1:05:51 split at halfway he slowed slightly on the outbound trip to the turnaround near 31 km, but picking it up again after 35 km he marked a 6:34 from 40 km to the finish to stop the clock at 2:11:46,  a 1:05:55 second half …

Chebii Returns - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

Defending champ Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) returns to lead the field for the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Chebii is one of three men in the field with recent 2:06 times, his 2:06:07 in Amsterdam two years ago leading Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) and Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) to form a clear trio of favorites.

Making up the second pack are four current sub-2:10 Japanese men, 2017 Gold Coast winner Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei), and Sasaki's teammates Takuya Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama. The addition of sub-61 half marathoner Kenta Murayama in his second shot at the marathon after a failed debut in Tokyo two years ago makes for a formidable quartet of men from 2017 and 2018 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei all aligned in training and talent.

With Japan's depth it's never surprising to see a relatively anonymous runner make a breakthrough and factor into the action. Yoshiki Takenouchi (NTT Nishi Nihon) was one of the …

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Upcoming race schedule: Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan
Mar. 25: Kuki Half Marathon, Saitama
Apr. 16: Boston Marathon, U.S.A.
May 5: Toyohirakawa Half Marathon, Hokkaido
June 2: ASICS Stockholm Marathon, Sweden
June 17: Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon, Shimane
July 1: Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Australia
Aug. 2…