Men and women course records set at Tokyo Marathon

The Tokyo Marathon—the first World Marathon Major of 2024—took place Sunday morning in Japan. In near-perfect conditions, with a starting temperature of about 42 degrees, more than 37,000 runners took to the streets in Japan’s capital city. Course records fell, although several notable pre-race favorites fell short.

Benson Kipruto wins men’s race in a course record

It was a Kenyan sweep in the men’s race: Boston and Chicago Marathon champion Benson Kipruto, 32, of Kenya, won in 2:02:16, a course record by 24 seconds. Timothy Kiplagat, 30, placed second in a personal-best 2:02:55, while Vincent Kipkemoi Ngetich, 25, was third in 2:04:18.

Led by a trio of pacers, a pack of seven men blazed out at world record pace, traveling the first 5K in 14:16 (4:36 pace). By 15K, the pace had slowed, but only four men (and two pacers) remained: Kipruto, Kiplagat, and Ngetich, and Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, 39, the two-time Olympic champion and former world record holder.

Unlike the men, the women started more conservatively, then picked up the pace. The lead pack covered the first 5K in 16:16, a 5:12 pace. Shankule led much of the race as competitors dropped off; the pack thinned to seven by 15K, four by 25K, and the top three by 30K as the pace ratcheted down (Shankule, Wanjiru,and Kebede covered 25K to 30K in 15:59, 5:09 pace).

Just before the 40K mark, Shankule fell back. Then, at the fluid stop just after the 40K mark, Kebede pulled ahead of Wanjiru, battling to the clock to better the 2:16:02 Brigid Kosgei ran here in 2021. 

Sifan Hassan, 31, of the Netherlands, was fourth in 2:18:05—it was her third marathon, and her first loss. However, her time was still faster than the 2:18:33 she ran in her victorious London debut.

Saina shines after disappointment at Trials

Four weeks ago, American marathoner Betsy Saina, 35, who had been a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team, dropped out of the Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando, Florida, after the 21-mile mark of the race. Even though Saina had been in contention for the third spot, she suddenly pulled off the course and flopped in the grass at the side of the road, a victim of the rising temperatures.

Saina quickly regrouped and was a late addition to the field for the Tokyo Marathon on March 3. In much cooler weather, Saina finished fifth in 2:19:17. It was a PR by 2:23, the third-fastest time by an American woman (behind Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato), and some measure of redemption after the disappointment of the Trials. She averaged 5:18.7 per mile.

Benson Kipruto and Sutume Asefa Kebede both won in course records, and American Betsy Saina ran a big PR to take fifth.


posted Sunday March 3rd
by Runner’s World