To make a long story short, the three questions in JRN's Osaka International Women's Marathon preview and their answers:
- Q: Can straight-arm specialist Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) duplicate her 2:21:36 debut in Nagoya last year after running badly at the London World Championships? A: No. Part of a trio that went through halfway in 1:11:59, Ando dropped off after 25 km and faded to a 2:27:37 for 3rd.
- Q: Can Honami Maeda (Tenmaya), the only Japanese woman to have qualified for the MGC Race so far, run a fast marathon for real after conquering the heat to win August's Hokkaido Marathon in 2:28:48? A: Yes. Her Hokkaido win was an almost 4-minute PB over her debut in Osaka last year, and with a 10-second negative split this time she chopped another 5 minutes-plus off her best to take 2nd in 2:23:46, replacing now-retired 2017 Osaka winner Risa Shigetomo as the top marathoner in the Tenmaya stable.
- Q: What can last year's 10000 m national champion Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) do in her debut? A: Kick some ass, to the tune of a 2:22:44 win with a 1:11:59 first half and a 1:10:45 second half after taking off hard at 30 km and running the rest of the way alone in snow. With a 16:19 split from 30 km to 35 km, 2:17:42 marathon pace, she and her coach are clearing looking at the problem of how to deal with a big surge in a big race, say one about two and a half years over the horizon. More power to them.
A local Osaka native unafraid to show more than a bit of personality, the 22-year-old Matsuda was very impressive, even in the hard light of Dubai. Her high school teammate Maeda, 21, left her own share of good impressions, taking control of the race with a surge ahead of the pacer at 25 km. Ando, also 22, was somewhat less than impressive this time out. Pre-Osaka Maeda was the only woman to have already qualified for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials event, but in Osaka Matsuda joined her with a truckload of room to spare and Ando just made it under the qualifying mark. That's not a bad showing.
Others with a good showing included:
- Anja Scherl (Germany), the top non-Japanese finisher at 4th in 2:29:29 after running more conservatively well back in the field in the first half.
- 42-year-old Mari Ozaki (Noritz) came up painfully short of her goal of a sub-2:30 but was still good enough for 6th overall in 2:30:03.
- University student Hitomi Mizuguchi (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) had a solid debut in 2:33:10 for 8th on the 8-deep podium.
- Esther Atkins (U.S.A.) ran almost perfect splits with a 1:18:28 first half and 1:18:29 2nd half for 12th in 2:36:57, her best time on a record-leagl course since 2014.
37th Osaka International Women's MarathonOsaka, 1/28/18
click here for complete results
1. Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) - 2:22:44 - debut
2. Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) - 2:23:46 - PB
3. Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:27:37
4. Anja Scherl (Germany) - 2:29:29
5. Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) - 2:29:53
6. Mari Ozaki (Noritz) - 2:30:03
7. Gladys Tejeda (Peru) - 2:30:44
8. Hitomi Mizuguchi (Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 2:33:10 - debut
9. Asumi Furuse (Kyocera) - 2:33:58
10. Ayano Ikemitsu (Kagoshima Ginko) - 2:36:18 - debut
11. Sayo Nomura (Uniqlo) - 2:36:52
12. Esther Atkins (U.S.A.) - 2:36:57
13. Izabela Trzaskalska (Poland) - 2:37:18
14. Kanae Shimoyama (Noritz) - 2:38:50
15. Yoshiko Sakamoto (YWC) - 2:39:15
DNF - Eunice Jeptoo (Kenya)
DNF - Fayesa Robi (Ethiopia)
DNF - Gotytom Gebrselase (Ethiopia)
© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved