In the early stages of the race the experienced Nakamoto and Kawauchi held back mid-pack while younger teammate Hiroto Inoue stayed near the front. Midway through the second lap Kawauchi took a drink bottle at one of the aid stations and, while drinking, hit his left thigh on a sign protruding from the next table, the signs inexplicably changing at exactly that point from overhead to waist-hieght obstacles on the course. The impact was hard enough to cut Kawauchi's leg but not enough to slow him down.
When the big move came early in the third lap Nakamoto led the charge in pursuit, the three Japanese men running single file, but Inoue quickly losing touch. Near the top of the short S-curve uphill near 23 km Kawauchi abruptly stumbled and fell, and by the time he got up Nakamoto was over 20 seconds away.
For Kawauchi, in his final Japanese National Team appearance it was his best-ever performance in a world-level championships, and one with the grittiest, most Kawauchiesque finish you could have asked for. At home he'll get criticism for not making top eight, but without the fall there's no telling how much further he might have gone. For Nakamoto it was a race that reaffirmed everything good about him. Three World Championships and an Olympics and never outside the top ten. For Inoue, one of the big hopefuls for the next generation of Japanese marathoners after his 2:08:22 breakthrough in Tokyo this year, it was a disappointment, but one that you can only hope leads to better things.
The Japanese women, almost universally more successful than the men at the World Championships level, turned in the weakest team performance of modern times. Medal contender Yuka Ando and the highly experienced Risa Shigetomo were never in the action. Ando's teammate Mao Kiyota was at the front of the pack in the early going, shifting to its rear after Aly Dixon (Great Britain) broke away from the group. For the middle half of the race Kiyota stayed there, repeatedly dropping out of contact and looking like she was done but coming back each time. Not until the real move came midway through the final lap was she dropped for good, losing almost three and a half minutes on winner Rose Chelimo (Bahrain) over the last 5 km.
London World Championships Marathon ResultsLondon, England, 8/6/17
click here for complete results
1. Geoffrey Kirui (Kenya) - 2:08:27
2. Tamirat Tola (Ethiopia) - 2:09:49
3. Alphonce Felix Simbu (Tanzania) - 2:09:51
4. Callum Hawkins (Great Britain) - 2:10:17 - PB
5. Gideon Kipketer (Kenya) - 2:10:56
6. Daniele Meucci (Italy) - 2:10:56 - PB
7. Yohanes Ghebregergis (Eritrea) - 2:12:07
8. Daniel Wanjiru (Kenya) - 2:12:16
9. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) - 2:12:19
10. Kentaro Nakamoto (Japan) - 2:12:41
26. Hiroto Inoue (Japan) - 2:16:54
1. Rose Chelimo (Bahrain) - 2:27:11
2. Edna Kiplagat (Kenya) - 2:27:18
3. Amy Cragg (U.S.A.) - 2:27:18
4. Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) - 2:27:21
5. Shure Demise (Ethiopia) - 2:27:58
6. Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:28:17
7. Helah Kiprop (Kenya) - 2:28:19
8. Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:28:49
9. Jessica Trengove (Australia) - 2:28:59
10. Berhane Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:29:01
16. Mao Kiyota (Japan) - 2:30:36
17. Yuka Ando (Japan) - 2:31:31
27. Risa Shigetomo (Japan) - 2:36:03
text and photos © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
Shigetomo photo © 2017 Noel Thatcher, all rights reserved
Kawauchi & bottom Kawauchi/Nakamoto photos © 2017 Mike Trees, all rights reserved