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Berlin Marathon - Japanese Results

by Brett Larner
top Fukushi photo by Victah Sailer, c/o Horst Milde
other photos by Werner Philipp and Hannes Uhtoffs, c/o Dr. Helmut Winter

2013 Tokyo Marathon winner Dennis Kimetto (Kenya) shook the world with his incredible 2:02:57 world record at today's Berlin Marathon, running a 1:01:12 second half that brought the concept of a low-2:02 marathon into the realm of possibility.  2014 Tokyo Marathon women's winner Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) added another World Marathon Majors title to her resume, outrunning three compatriots, the U.S.A.'s Shalane Flanagan and Moscow World Championships bronze medalist Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) for the win in 2:20:18.  Less well-noticed was Fukuoka Marathon course record holder Tsegaye Kebede's 2:10:27 for 9th, his 18th career sub-2:11 and tying Korean great Lee Bong Ju's world record for most times sub-2:11.

Fukushi, quietly coming to Berlin in search of a time closer to the three Japanese women who have run 2:19 there than her current 2:24:21 PB, ran craftily behind Flanagan for the first half looking solid, but right at halfway she locked up and began to move backward through the field.  Just holding off German favorite Anna Hahner, Fukushi ended up 6th in 2:26:25.  It's a sign of the current state of Japanese women's marathoning that this was still the 5th-fastest marathon of the year by a Japanese woman, and with only Thursday's Asian Games and November's Yokohama International Women's Marathon really left on the calendar for the top Japanese there is a possibility that there may not even be ten women sub-2:30 by year's end.

On the men's side, 2013's top Japanese man Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko), 2:08:00 at last year's Tokyo Marathon, went out with the second group on low-2:08 pace, while London Olympian Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group Sagawa), 2014 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon winner Kazuki Tomaru (Team Toyota) and semi-retired former 5000 m national champion Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Team Monteroza) went out on low-2:11 pace in group three.

Maeda's group steadily slowed while the group behind them steadily accelerated, and by halfway it was clear that the vectors were going to cross.  Running with American Fernando Cabada, Tomaru was the first Japanese man across the line, 10th in a PB 2:11:25.  Yamamoto, sub-2:11 in Vienna in the spring, was 13th in 2:12:49, while the 35-year-old Tokumoto ran down National Marathon Team member Maeda for 15th in 2:14:35.  About which Yuki Kawauchi will no doubt have something to say.

Tomaru's PB run was solid, but you can't help but feel that Berlin wasn't the right race for it, that he and the other Japanese runners would have been better served going to races where they could be competing for the win, not for top ten.  Winning a second-tier domestic race in 2:11:43 in your debut is great, but it doesn't mean you should jump straight to the big leagues.  No matter what your pride says.  It's clear why Japan sends its 2:08-2:12 men to Berlin and Chicago, because those were the races where Takayuki Inubushi and Toshinari Takaoka ran 2:06 Japanese national records.  But the way of thinking of those making that decision is out of date.  When Inubushi and Takaoka ran those times in Berlin and Chicago they were challenging for the win at or near world record pace.  That hasn't been a possibility at those speeds at those races for years, but in the meantime countless other good races have come up to and beyond the level of Berlin and Chicago in Inubushi and Takaoka's era.  Wouldn't it be better to run one of those instead?  To go for the time while racing to win and come out thinking, "I can beat them!" instead of running alone a kilometer (or two, these days) behind the leaders and having the message, "The rest of the world is a thousand times better than we are" drilled into you?  That was what Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) did in Ottawa in 2010 and it led him to run 2:07 two years later.  The rest of Japan's men and the powers that be could stand to learn from that example if they are really serious about becoming the best they can be for Tokyo 2020.

Berlin Marathon
Berlin, Germany, 9/28/14
click here for complete results

1. Dennis Kimetto (Kenya) - 2:02:57 - WR
2. Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) - 2:03:13 (WR)
3. Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) - 2:05:56
4. Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya) - 2:06:39
5. Eliud Kiptanui (Kenya) - 2:07:28
6. Frankline Chepkwony (Kenya) - 2:07:35
7. Levy Matebo (Kenya) - 2:08:33
8. Maswai Kiptanui (Kenya) - 2:10:18
9. Tsegaye Kebede (Ethipia) - 2:10:27
10. Kazuki Tomaru (Japan/Team Toyota) - 2:11:25 - PB
13. Ryo Yamamoto (Japan/Team SGH Group Sagawa) - 2:12:49
15. Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (Japan/Team Monteroza) - 2:14:35 - PB
16. Kazuhiro Maeda (Japan/Team Kyudenko) - 2:15:18

1. Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) - 2:20:18
2. Feyse Tadese (Ethiopia) - 2:20:27
3. Shalane Flanagan (U.S.A.) - 2:21:14
4. Tadelech Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:23:02
5. Abedech Afework (Ethiopia) - 2:25:02
6. Kayoko Fukushi (Japan/Team Wacoal) - 2:26:25
7. Anna Hahner (Germany) - 2:26:44
8. Ines Melchor (Peru) - 2:26:48
9. Rene Kalmer (South Africa) - 2:29:27
10. Adriana Da Silva (Brazil) - 2:38:05
15. Toshiko Yoshikawa (Japan/NRF) - 2:49:46

(c) text 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved 
top Fukushi photo (c) 2014 Photo Run, Inc., all rights reserved
other photos (c) 2014 Werner Philipp/Hannes Uhtoffs, all rights reserved


Anna Novick said…
2:26:25 on the Berlin course is disappointing. I concur that we might not get 10 sub-2:30s by the end of the year, given the paucity of non-Japanese runners who compete at Yokohama.
Metts said…
Well said. There has been a complete paradign shift in marathons, both times and mindset. What was competitive 10 years ago is not even, in some cases, within 2km of the leaders these days. Time for a different strategy to get back in the hunt er,, race. The US could also benefit with a change in strategy.
CK said…
Remember watching Takaoka's run in Chicago on TV. Leaders near WR pace from the start and Takaoka went off the front at maybe 30K or 35K - well clear and think he was under WR pace until he blew up around 39 or 40K. Fearless "I can beat them, and in whatever time it requires" performace against the best in the world at the time before the era of Tergat's sub 2:05. If anyone knows about any kind of documentary on that run, I'd love to get a link to it.
Brett Larner said…
If you look on Youtube there are some sections of the Chicago broadcast, including the part where Takaoka was leading and the finish where he outkicks Tergat and almost gets Njenga back.

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