Skip to main content

Abera and Yoshitomi Take 65th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Wins, Akutsu Gets Ehime Marathon Course Record

by Brett Larner

Shut out of inclusion in the selection races for the Rio Olympics men's team the 65th running of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon was largely a developmental race, the small international field and large field of second-tier and debuting Japanese men setting out in hopes of sub-2:10 times.  #1 seed Evans Ruto (Kenya), the only athlete in the field to have broken 2:09, was an early casualty, dropping out just past 15 km as the pace accelerated from high 2:09 to low 2:08 territory.  Over a dozen were still in touch at halfway in 1:04:22, including #2 and #3-ranked Shume Hailu (Ethiopia) and Anthony Maritim (Kenya), Japanese men Naohiro Yamada (YKK), Kenichi Shiraishi (Asahi Kasei) and Shogo Kanezane (Chugoku Denryoku), 22-year-old Myeung Jun Son (South Korea) and debuting Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima), Yuki Munakata (Kanebo) and Keisuke Kusaka (Hitachi Butsuryu).

Past the halfway point Kiflom Sium (Eritrea) was the next main casualty, and just after 25 km a surge on a corner from remaining pacer Mekubo Mogusu (Kenya/Sunbelx) dropped everyone but Haile, Maritim and Abera.  Yamada was quick to catch up, Son leading Munakata and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) back into contact a kilometer or two later.  When Mogusu stepped off at 30 km the lead group was on 2:08:53 pace, with Maritim, Abera and Shume side-by-side, Yamada a few strides back and Son slipping away.

The Japan-based Abera, making his marathon debut at age 21 after setting the course record at last year's Oita City Half Marathon, pushed the pace to crack first Shume and then Maritim.  By 35 km he was free and clear in the lead, smiling, blowing kisses and talking to the camera, waving and giving peace signs.  That lasted all of about 3 km before the marathon caught up with him.  Still on sub-2:09 pace at 40 km, his stride shortened dramatically and he began to look back with gritted teeth.  Luckily for him Maritim and Shume were nowhere to be seen, and Abera held on for the win in 2:09:27.  Maritim was next, almost two minutes back in 2:11:17, with Shume rounding out the top 3 in 2:11:41.

More dramatic action was happening further back.  Yamada, looking strong at 30 km, slowed almost to a jog after 32 km and was overtaken by both Munakata and Son.  At 38 km Son dropped Munakata to move into 4th, but with 1.5 km he was caught by former Hakone Ekiden Fifth Stage runner Kazuya Ishida (Nishitetsu), off the lead pace early but closing hard to advance through the field and take a surprise 4th in 2:12:25 as the top Japanese man.  In just his third marathon Son was 5th in a PB 2:12:34, the best Korean men's time since 2012.

In the women's race Japan's #1-ranked amateur Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) scored her fourth-straight marathon win in the last three months, outrunning Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) and Hisayo Matsumoto (unattached) for the win in 2:45:07.  Yoshitomi's season goal is a sub-2:30 PB at the Tokyo Marathon later this month where she is again the #1-ranked Japanese woman.

Beppu-Oita did count in qualification for the Rio Paralympics team visually impaired division.  Masahiro Okamura (Runweb) secured himself a place with a 2:27:24 win at age 45.  Misato Michishita (JBMA), already on the Rio team, set out in search of a world record but fell off pace late in the race, winning 3:03:42.

A much faster time than Yoshitomi's came at the 54th Ehime Marathon, where 21-year-old Yuka Akutsu (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) ran 2:35:31 to take over a minute and a half of the course record.  Defending men's winner Sohei Wada (Tokushima T&F Assoc.) made it two in a row, bettering last year's winning time by 42 seconds in 2:21:00.

65th Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
Oita, 2/17/6
click here for complete results

Men
1. Melaku Abera (Ethiopia/Kurosaki Harima) - 2:09:27 - debut
2. Anthony Maritim (Kenya) - 2:11:17
3. Hailu Shume (Ethiopia) - 2:11:41
4. Kazuya Ishida (Nishitetsu) - 2:12:25
5. Myeong Jun Son (South Korea) - 2:12:34 - PB
6. Kenichi Shiraishi (Asahi Kasei) - 2:13:07
7. Ihor Olefirenko (Ukraine) - 2:13:33
8. Yuki Munakata (Kanebo) - 2:13:53 - debut
9. Keisuke Kusaka (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:14:11 - debut
10. Shogo Kanezane (Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:14:15 - PB
-----
DNF - Evans Ruto (Kenya)
DNF - Kiflom Sium (Eritrea)

Women
1. Hiroko Yoshitomi (First Dream AC) - 2:45:07
2. Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) - 2:48:27
3. Hisayo Matsumoto (unattached) - 2:48:51

Visually Impaired - Men
1. Masahiro Okamura (Runweb) - 2:27:24
2. Shinya Wada (JBMA) - 2:33:46
3. Yutaka Kumagai (AC Kita) - 2:34:06

Visually Impaired - Women
1. Misato Michishita (JBMA) - 3:03:42
2. Hiroko Kondo (JBMA) - 3:18:05
3. Yumiko Fujii (Biwako Timers) - 3:24:06

54th Ehime Marathon
Matsuyama, Ehime, 2/7/16
complete results coming shortly

Men
1. Shohei Wada (Tokushima T&F Assoc.) - 2:21:00

Women
1. Yuka Akutsu (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:35:31 - CR

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kiplagat, Ichiyama, Tadese and Shitara Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

The Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon is always one of Japan's deepest races of the year on the men's side, its 2012 running setting a world record for the most men under 64 minutes in a single half marathon in history. On the women's side the field is always smaller but still home to the 1:07:26 Japanese national record set by Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) back in 2006.

Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Sara Hall (U.S.A.) and Betsy Saina (Kenya) lead the women's international field, two-time defending champ Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) giving Marugame a miss this year. Fresh off a 1:09:14 PB at last month's Sanyo Ladies Half, Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) leads a trio of Japanese women with recent sub-1:10 times, something that has become a puzzling rarity lately. Fukushi is also back, her recent best of 1:12:04 a long way from her best days.

Speaking of which, world record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) will be looking to break 60 minutes for the first time since 2015. His toughest…

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Cheboitibin, Kiprono and Sonoda Top Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon Elite Entries

With just over two weeks to go the organizers of the Feb. 4 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon have released their elite field for this year's race. With its history as an elite men-only race Beppu-Oita's women's field is still tiny given its status as an IAAF silver label race, but this year promises a good race between two local 2:32 women, 2016 winner Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) and Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu), that should see the 2:39:57 course record fall. Defending champ Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) also returns with a 2:38:43 PB from last fall that puts her range of the course record as well.

The men's race is heavier-duty, with a spot in the MGC Race Tokyo Olympic Trials available to the top Japanese man under 2:11:00 and to up to five others if they clear 2:10. Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) and Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) are the only Japanese men in the field to have run those kinds of times in the last couple of years, and with support from 2:09~2:10 men