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Chumba and Tsegaye Set Tokyo Marathon CRs as Five Japanese Men Break 2:10

by Brett Larner

You couldn't ask for much better conditions than the Tokyo Marathon had today, and when you have fields with eight to eleven athletes with best times faster than your course records, those records are bound to fall.  Dickson Chumba (Kenya) and Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) came through to beat the favorites, Chumba running a PB 2:05:42 to get the Tokyo men's course record and Tsegaye cutting more than three minutes off the women's record with the win in 2:22:23.  For Japanese men it was either the second or third-greatest marathon in history depending on your metric, five of them clearing 2:10, four for the first time, led by Kohei Matsumura (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) in 2:08:09.

Daegu World Championships marathoner Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) led the women's race through a relatively conservative first 10 km in 34:18 before the pace began to quicken.  Still in the lead at 20 km, she split 33:47 for the second 10 km before giving up the lead to Tsegaye and the formerly Japan-based Caroline Rotich (Kenya) at halfway. By 25 km the front pack was down to Tsegaye, Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia), Rotich, her fellow Kenyans Janet Rono and, also formerly Japan-based, Lucy Wangui Kabuu.  Tsegaye and Dibaba worked together to push the attack, shaking off first Rono, then Kabuu, and finally Rotich until they were alone together at 40 km.  Tsegaye had the stronger finish, opening seven seconds on Dibaba for the win and course record in 2:22:23.  Kabuu overtook Rotich for 3rd in 2:24:16, with Rotich's 2:24:35 making it four under the old course record.  Ito faded, run down by Russian Albina Mayorova with 2 km to go, but still took top Japanese honors in 2:28:36 for 7th.  Former national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) was 85th in 3:11:05.

A massive men's pack with virtually all the big names went out on low-2:05 pace through the downhill first 10 km, only sub-60 half marathoner Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Abderrahime Bouramdane (Morocco) holding back on high-2:06 pace with a small constellation of second-tier Japanese men around them to form a chase group.  Despite having the flu and having publicly said his goal was only 2:10, top-ranked Japanese man Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) ran near the front of the lead group, at one point moving to the front line and urging the pacers to go faster when they seemed in danger of slackening off Japanese national record pace.

Approaching halfway the casualties began to rack up as people dropped from the lead group.  The debuting Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), all-time Japanese #4 over the half marathon, was the first to falter, followed just past 25 km by Fujiwara.  Just before the Asakusa turnaround near 28 km four of the five Japanese men still in the lead pack backed off en masse, with only 2:12:22 man Hirokatsu Kurosaki, a graduate of 2014 Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University and member of the 2014 New Year Ekiden national champion team Konica Minolta, left to contend up front.

When the pacers departed at 30 km Peter Some (Kenya) went to work, stringing things out and dumping Kurosaki, mutliple world-level medalist Abel Kirui (Kenya) and 2010 Hokkaido Marathon winner Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) from contention. With six still up front at 35 km, Chumba attacked on the hills between 36 and 41 km, covering Tokyo's toughest section in a superb 14:21 that only #1-ranked Tadesse Tola could match.  With a one-second lead at 40 km, Chumba's final kick proved too much as he pulled away for the win in 2:05:42, the second-fastest time ever on Japanese soil and more than a minute better than the record set last year by Dennis Kimetto (Kenya).  Tola also broke 2:06, taking 2nd in 2:05:57, with Sammy Kitwara (Kenya) joining them under Kimetto's record in 2:06:30 for 3rd.

Further back, Kurosaki and Njui worked together to try to reel in the fading Kirui, but behind them the Japanese quartet that had earlier fallen back began to regain ground.  On the hills after 36 km, first Matsumura and then Koji Kobayashi (Team Subaru) went by, with Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko) and Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda), the only one among them to have run sub-2:10 before, bearing down.  As the final few kilometers went by it was clear they would all go under 2:10, the only question whether there would be a coveted 2:07.  Matsumura did what he could but just missed, crossing the line 8th in a superb 2:08:09.  Kobayashi also cleared 2:09, just two seconds short of his coach Wataru Okutani's best of 2:08:49, with Kurosaki, Sakai and Ishikawa all under 2:09:30.  It was the fourth time in history that five or more Japanese men had broken 2:10 in one race and, with only Asian Games team places at stake, the first time it had ever happened in a non-Olympic season.  Although three men broke 2:09 at the 2004 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, this year's Tokyo had the second-fastest average time ever among the top five Japanese men, earning it a solid place in Japanese marathoning history.

Fukuoka 2003 (Athens Olympics selection race) – top five average: 2:08:14
2:07:52 – Tomoaki Kunichika
2:07:55 – Toshinari Suwa
2:07:59 – Toshinari Takaoka
2:08:37 – Tsuyoshi Ogata
2:08:48 – Tadayuki Ojima
2:09:58 – Michitane Noda

Tokyo 2014 (2014 Asian Games selection race) – top five average: 2:08:57
2:08:09 - Kohei Matsumura
2:08:51 - Koji Kobayashi
2:09:07 - Hirokatsu Kurosaki
2:09:10 - Masanori Sakai
2:09:29 - Suehiro Ishikawa

Lake Biwa 2004 (Athens Olympics selection race) – top five average: 2:09:02
2:08:18 – Tadayuki Ojima
2:08:36 – Atsushi Sato
2:08:56 – Kazutoshi Takatsuka
2:09:25 – Yuko Matsumiya
2:09:55 – Shinichi Watanabe

Lake Biwa 2012 (London Olympics selection race) – top five average: 2:09:12
2:08:44 - Ryo Yamamoto
2:08:53 – Kentaro Nakamoto
2:09:12 – Tomoyuki Morita
2:09:16 – Takashi Horiguchi
2:09:55 – Masashi Hayashi

Miyawaki missed out on joining that history but continued to grind it out after losing touch with the pack before 25 km, taking 15th in 2:11:50, a good debut at any age let alone 22. Just behind him, 21-year-old Shun Sato (Jobu Univ.) turned in one of the better recent Japanese collegiate marathon times as he took 19th in 2:12:15.  After pushing on national record pace through 25 km, the still-ill Fujiwara shuffled in to the finish in 2:30:58, better days to be found elsewhere.  Matsumura's 2:08:09, five seconds faster than the best time of the popular Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), sets the stage for some fireworks at next week's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, where Kawauchi is already going for 2:07. Another corporate runner getting a leg up on him can only help.

2014 Tokyo Marathon
Tokyo, 2/23/14
click here for complete results

1. Dickson Chumba (Kenya) - 2:05:42 - CR, PB
2. Tadesse Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:05:57
3. Sammy Kitwara (Kenya) - 2:06:30
4. Michael Kipyego (Kenya) - 2:06:58
5. Peter Some (Kenya) - 2:07:05
6. Geoffrey Kipsang (Kenya) - 2:07:37
7. Deressa Chimsa (Ethiopia) - 2:07:40
8. Kohei Matsumura (Japan/Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) - 2:08:09 - PB
9. Koji Kobayashi (Japan/Team Subaru) - 2:08:51 - PB
10. Abel Kirui (Kenya) - 2:09:04
11. Hirokatsu Kurosaki (Japan/Team Konica Minolta) - 2:09:07 - PB
12. Masanori Sakai (Japan/Team Kyudenko) - 2:09:10 - PB
13. Suehiro Ishikawa (Japan/Team Honda) - 2:09:29
14. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:09:35
15. Chihiro Miyawaki (Japan/Team Toyota) - 2:11:50 - debut
16. Abderrahime Bouramdane (Morocco) - 2:12:09
17. Chiharu Takada (Japan/Team JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:12:09
18. Keisuke Wakui (Japan/Team Yakult) - 2:12:12 - PB
19. Shun Sato (Japan/Jobu Univ.) - 2:12:15 - PB
20. Yasuhito Ikeda (Japan/Team NTT Nishi Nihon) - 2:13:49 - PB
21. Tomoya Adachi (Japan/Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:14:53
22. Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Japan/Team Monteroza) - 2:14:59
23. Tomonori Sakamoto (Japan/Team Press Kogyo) - 2:15:13 - PB
24. Shunsuke Sakai (Japan/Team Chuo Hatsujo) - 2:16:36 - PB
25. Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 2:16:43
DNF - Yared Asmerom (Eritrea)

1. Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) - 2:22:23 - CR
2. Birhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:22:30 - PB
3. Lucy Wangui Kabuu (Kenya) - 2:24:16
4. Caroline Rotich (Kenya) - 2:24:35
5. Janet Rono (Kenya) - 2:26:03 - PB
6. Albina Mayorova (Russia) - 2:28:18
7. Mai Ito (Japan/Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:28:36
8. Rika Shintaku (Japan/Team Shimamura) - 2:31:15 - PB
9. Manami Kamitanida (Japan/Team Hitachi) - 2:31:34 - PB
10. Hiroko Yoshitomi (Japan/First Dream AC) - 2:32:38
11. Azusa Nojiri (Japan/Hiratsuka Lease) - 2:33:39
12. Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia) - 2:35:03
13. Chihiro Tanaka (Japan/Athlec AC) - 2:40:44
14. Mitsuko Hirose (Japan/Tokyo Wings AC) - 2:41:55
15. Risa Suzuki (Japan/Power Breeze AC) - 2:42:55 - PB
16. Yumiko Kinoshita (Japan/Second Wind AC) - 2:43:26 - PB
17. Yuka Yamazaki (Japan/Team Kojima Press) - 2:44:06
18. Haruka Yamaguchi (Japan/AC Kita) - 2:46:03 - PB
19. Maki Inami (Japan/AC Kita) - 2:46:38
20. Toshiko Yoshikawa (Japan/NRF AC) - 2:46:48 - PB
21. Ikue Tabata (Nimono RC) - 2:47:50
22. Risa Hagiwara (Second Wind AC) - 2:47:59
23. Mineko Yamanouchi (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 2:48:04
24. Shinobu Ayabe (Obaria AC) - 2:48:06 - PB
25. Yuka Aoyama (Crest AC) - 2:48:10
85. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 3:11:05
DNF - Olena Shurkhno (Ukraine)
DNF - Merima Mohammed (Ethiopia)

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Anna Novick said…
great article! Nice to see Miyakawa hold it even though he faded--2:11 for debut is excellent. I couldn't help but wonder how much the CR crushing pace from the start contributed to both Shibui and Arata's fade. It seems unlikely as going out too fast is a "rookie" mistake, but the pattern of deceleration looked oddly familiar to something I would do...
On a separate note, I cringed when I saw a full-body costume runner at the start in the first corral...
TokyoRacer said…
I think Shibui had bigger problems than just the pace — she walked the last 2km.

As for the first corral, the Japan Rikuren (Track Association) for some idiotic reason, puts rikuren members in the first corral. So if you are a 4 hour marathoner but a member of the rikuren (anyone can be a member), you get put in the first corral. So there are about 3,000 slow runners up front. Someone should explain to them very carefully that you CANNOT do that at a major marathon.

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