Honami Maeda Breaks Mizuki Noguchi's 30 km National Record and Pre-Athens Ome 30 km Course Record

2020 Olympic marathon trials winner Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) took down two massive marks at Sunday's Ome 30 km Road Race in Tokyo's mountainous western suburbs, breaking Mizuki Noguchi's 30 km national record and pre-Athens Olympic gold medal Ome course record in 1:38:35 in wet conditions. Beating her closest female competition by almost eight minutes, Maeda was strong and about as steady as possible over the tough Ome course, clocking 5 km splits of 16:18 - 16:18 - 16:48 - 16:22 - 16:37 - 16:12.

Maeda's stated goal pre-race was Noguchi's 1:39:06 course record, set in February, 2004 as a key tune-up for Noguchi's gold medal-winning run in the Athens Olympics marathon. That fell by a wide margin, but few expected Maeda to also beat Noguchi's national record of 1:38:49 set en route during her 2:19:12 marathon national record run at the 2005 Berlin Marathon. It took Maeda's fastest split of the race, a 16:12 from 25 km to the finish, for that to happen, but happen it did. And the times being what they are, it's worth mentioning that she didn't appear to have been wearing carbon plate shoes. Looking at Noguchi in 2004 and at Maeda now, Maeda is looking more and more like the real deal. Maybe it's time to start getting a tiny bit excited about what might happen this summer.

The women's race at the other big 30 km race of the day, Kumamoto's Kumanichi 30 km Road Race, was closer, if nowhere near Maeda's level, and equally wet. 20-year-old Ako Matsumoto (Denso) ran 1:46:09, 10 seconds faster than Ome runner-up Yuri Nozoe (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), for the win, with teammate Ayano Ikeuchi and Chika Ihara (Higo Ginko) both finishing within a minute of her for 2nd and 3rd.

The men's races in Ome and Kumanichi were almost the inverse of what happened in the women's race. In Ome, a pack of eight went out on track to break the 1:29:06 course record set by Kenyan Ezekiel Cheboitibin (Sunbelx) last year. By halfway that was down to a trio, former Hakone Ekiden uphill Fifth Stage winner Daniel Muiva Kitonyi (Track Tokyo), Masaya Taguchi (Honda), and Junsuke Kanbe (Komazawa Univ.).

Rounding the turnaround for the mostly downhill return trip Kitonyi attacked, but the last hard uphill with just over 8 km to go killed him. Taguchi rolled up and by in the last 5 km to take the win in 1:30:45. Kitonyi staggered in for 2nd in 1:31:14, holding off Ryo Kawamoto (Kurosaki Harima) who came up from the chase pack for 3rd in 1:31:51.

In Kumanichi, former half marathon and marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara, like Ome winner Taguchi a graduate of Toyo University and current Honda corporate team runner, did what he does best and soloed the race start to finish, winning in 1:29:47 by nearly a minute over Kazuto Kawabata (Konica Minolta). His time bettered the 1:29:55 run by his twin brother Keita Shitara at Kumanichi 7 years ago and served as a confidence builder ahead of next month's Tokyo Marathon where he hopes to run 2:04.

Post-race he told the media, "If I lost here there would be no next time. In the two weeks left until the Tokyo Marathon I want to bring my level up another 20~30%. I want to run the kind of race that's going to get people all across Japan excited."

54th Ome 30 km Road Race

posted Saturday February 22nd