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Matsuda runs 2:20:52 to break Osaka Women's Marathon record

Mizuki Matsuda broke the race record at the Osaka Women’s Marathon on Sunday (30), improving her PB to 2:20:52 to win the World Athletics Elite Label event.

Her time beats the 2:21:11 event record which had been set by Mao Ichiyama last year and moves her to fifth on the Japanese all-time list. It is also the second-fastest time by a Japanese athlete in Japan, behind Ichiyama’s 2:20:29 set in Nagoya in 2020.

Matsuda was followed over the finish line by Mao Uesugi, Natsumi Matsushita and Mizuki Tanimoto, as the top four all dipped under 2:24.

Before the race, Matsuda had explained how her goal was to win the race with a performance that would help her to secure a spot on the team for the World Athletics Championships in Oregon later this year. After winning in Osaka in 2020 with 2:21:47, Matsuda had later missed out on a place at the Tokyo Olympics when Ichiyama ran faster in Nagoya.

“I could not attain my goal today,” she said after the race, with beating Ichiyama’s 2:20:29 a likely aim. “I am happy that my hard training paid off well.

“I think the result was good because I ran aggressively from the start. I just hope that I will be selected for the World Championships team. During the race, I was imagining myself running in Eugene, thinking: ‘How would the world-class runner run at this stage of the race?’”

Despite the pandemic, the event in Osaka was able to go ahead as planned, under good conditions with little of the expected wind.

Matsuda and Uesugi had run together behind the three male pacemakers until just after 25km, passing 10km in 33:02 and half way in 1:09:57 – a half marathon PB for Uesugi.

At 25km the clock read 1:22:47, but Uesugi started to drift back a short while later and by 30km – passed in 1:39:15 – Matsuda had built a 31-second lead.

She went through 35km in 1:56:04 and 40km in 2:13:23, with the pacemakers leaving the race as they entered Nagai Stadium park at around 41km.

Matsuda went on to cross the finish line in 2:20:52 to achieve her third Osaka Women’s Marathon win after her victories in 2018 and 2020, maintaining her unbeaten record in the event.

Although Uesugi’s pace began to slow as she was dropped, she held on to run a big PB of 2:22:29, while Matsushita was third in 2:23:05 and Tanimoto fourth in 2:23:11. Yukari Abe was fifth in 2:24:02 as the top five all set PBs, with Sayaka Sato sixth in 2:24:47. The top six all qualified for the Marathon Grand Championship, the 2024 Olympic trial race.

 

(01/30/2022) Views: 340 ⚡AMP
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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This weekend's Osaka International Women's Marathon will go ahead despide omicron wave

Despite Osaka being named to a preliminary state of emergency as Japan goes deeper into its omicron wave, this weekend's Osaka International Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon are going ahead on their traditional public road courses. Osaka Women's is Japan's last remaining purely elite marathon, and with the mass-participation Osaka Marathon moving to the last weekend of February this year and targeting WA platinum label status the writing has to be on the wall for its future.

It just doesn't seem sustainable to have this race four weeks before the start of a three-week run of platinum label races, one in the same city, one in Tokyo and one in Nagoya.

But for this year, at least, Osaka Women's clearly has the support up top in the local government to keep moving, and that counts for something. Like the 2021 race, despite its name it's a Japanese-only field with male pacers, kind of inevitably on the first point given Japan's ongoing border fortification but a bit regrettably on the second. Take out the "International" and "Women's" and what have you got left?

The win looks almost definitely to be between Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) and Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku). Matsuda has one of the best records in the sport, with three wins and a 5th-place in Berlin out of five marathon starts, all between 2:21:47 and 2:22:44. The only misfire she's had was a 2:29:51 for 4th in Japan's Olympic marathon trials that left her as alternate. How she would have done if she'd replaced one of the less-than-100% women who ran the Olympics is one of last year's biggest what-ifs. Sato was the 4th-fastest Japanese woman in 2020 and 2021 and set the 25 km NR en route in her marathon debut, a mark that Matsuda broke while winning Nagoya last year. Sato will need a big step up and/or another miss from Matsuda to compete, but it should be a good race.

The supporting cast includes 2019's fastest Japanese woman Reia Iwade (Adidas), and 2021's 3rd and 4th-placers Yukari Abe (Shimamura) and Mao Uesugi (Starts). Osaka Women's factors into the complex algorithms for making the Oregon World Championships team and Paris Olympics marathon trials, and with six other women in the field having run under the 2:27:00 B-standard for qualification for the Olympic trials the race to finish in the 4th-6th place B-standard bracket should be just as good as the one to make the 1st-3rd place A-standard bracket.

Alongside the marathon, the Osaka Half Marathon will also feature two-time Osaka International winner Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) in her final race. Fukushi's marathon debut in Osaka in 2008 was possibly the wildest elite-level marathon debut in history, and while she might not have another marathon in her it's great to see her bring her career to a close back where she had one of its most unforgettable highlights. Sub-61 half marathoner Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) leads the men's field in the half in a tune-up for one of the big marathons a month away whose future is still up in the air.

Fuji TV is handling TV broadcasting duties starting at noon Sunday Japan time. Official streaming looks to be through the TVer subscription service, so get your VPNs now. You might have luck with mov3.co too, but use a popup blocker. JRN will also be covering the race on @JRNlive.

(01/29/2022) Views: 402 ⚡AMP
by Brett Larner
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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2022 Strong Elite Field for Osaka International Women's Marathon

The organizers of next month's Osaka International Women's Marathon have announced the invited field of 43 for Japan's last remaining purely elite marathon. Like the 2021 race, despite the event's name it's a Japanese-only field with male pacers, kind of inevitably on the first point given Japan's ongoing border fortification but a bit regrettably on the second.

For a domestic field it's pretty good, all 17 of the women in it who've run under 2:35 in the last three years having done it either here or in Nagoya. 2020 winner and unlucky Olympic alternate Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) is the favorite, with support from Sayaka Sato (Sekisui Kagaku), the 4th-fastest Japanese woman in 2020 and 2021, 2019's fastest Reia Iwade (Adidas), and 2021's 3rd and 4th-placers Yukari Abe (Shimamura) and Mao Uesugi (Starts). 

Six other women in the field have run under the 2:27:00 B-standard for qualification for the 2024 Olympic marathon trials, including current JMC Series I leader Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita), so with the qualifying window now open the race to finish in the 4th-6th place B-standard bracket should be just as good as the one to make the 1st-3rd place A-standard bracket.

Alongside the marathon, the Osaka Half Marathon will also feature two-time Osaka International winner Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) in her final race.

Check back closer to race date for options on streaming and following the race live.

41st Osaka International Women's Marathon.

- Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) - 2:21:47 (1st, Osaka Int'l 2020)

- Sayaka Sato (Seiksui Kagaku) - 2:23:27 (5th, Nagoya Women's 2020)

- Reia Iwade (Adidas) - 2:23:52 (5th, Nagoya Women's 2019)

- Yukari Abe (Shimamura) - 2:24:41 (3rd, Osaka Int'l 2021)

- Mao Uesugi (Starts) - 2:24:52 (4th, Osaka Int'l 2021)

- Mizuki Tanimoto (Tenmaya) - 2:25:28 (11th, Nagoya Women's 2019)

- Ayano Ikemitsu (Kagoshima Ginko) - 2:26:07 (12th, Nagoya  Women's 2019)

- Ayumi Hagiwara (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 2:26:15 (5th, Oaka Int'l 2021)

- Natsumi Matsushita (Tenmaya) - 2:26:26 (3rd, Nagoya Women's 2021)

- Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) - 2:26:35 (7th, Osaka Int'l 2020)

- Hanae Tanaka (Daiichi Seimei) - 2:26:49 (5th, Nagoya Women's 2021)

- Misaki Kato (Kyudenko) - 2:27:20 (8th, Nagoya Women's 2021)

- Madoka Nakano (Iwatani Sangyo) - 2:27:39 (4th, Osaka Int'l 2019)

- Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto) - 2:28:51 (16th, Osaka Int'l 2020)

- Anna Matsuda (Denso) - 2:29:52 (8th, Osaka Int'l 2021)

- Rie Kawauchi (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:31:34 (17th, Nagoya Women's 2021)

- Ayano Ikeuchi (Denso) - 2:33:29 (19th, Nagoya Women's 2021)

- Mai Fujisawa (Hokkaido Excel AC) - 2:35:52 (1st, Kanazawa 2021)

- Asuka Yamamoto (Edion) - 2:36:14 (21th, Osaka Int'l 2020)

- Tomomi Sawahata (Sawahatas) - 2:37:02 (1st, Gunma 2021)

- Mai Ito (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:38:07 (25th, Nagoya Women's 2021)

- Michi Numata (Toyota Jidoshokki) - 2:38:30 (39th, Nagoya Women's 2019)

- Saki Tokoro (Kyocera) - 2:38:49 (40th, Nagoya Women's 2019)

- Mitsuko Ino (Linkstyle) - 2:39:04 (10th, Osaka 2019).

(12/28/2021) Views: 420 ⚡AMP
by Brett Larner
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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Japanese woman Mariko Yugeta, sets W60 world record with 2:52 marathon in Osaka

Sunday’s Osaka Women’s Marathon in Japan saw many fast results, including a course record and world-leading time from Mao Ichiyama, who won the race in 2:21:11. Ichiyama’s win was not the biggest story of the day, however, as she and the rest of the field were overshadowed by Mariko Yugeta, a 62-year-old woman who posted an age group world record of 2:52:13.

Yugeta’s time was good enough for 48th place, and it smashed the previous W60 world record of 2:56:54, which she set in 2019.

Not only is this a world record for  Yugeta, but it’s also a personal best. That’s right — she’s 62 years old and beating times she set years ago. Since joining the W60 age group, Yugeta has broken the marathon world record three times. Her first record run came in November 2019, when she became the first W60 runner to break three hours in the marathon. She ran 2:59:15 at the Shimonoseki Kaikyo Marathon in Japan, shattering the previous world record of 3:02:50 that France’s Claudine Marchadier set in 2007.

Yugeta´s next record-breaking run came just one month after her initial sub-three-hour result, this time at Japan’s Saitama International Marathon. Despite having run a marathon weeks earlier, she managed to lower her own record even more, finishing in 18th place in 2:56:54. She failed to break her record in 2020, but she did post another sub-three-hour result, running the Osaka Women’s Marathon in 2:59:23. Finally, Yugeta ran her current PB of 2:52:13 on Sunday, but she isn’t satisfied just yet.

As reported by Japan Running News (JRN), Yugeta is registered for the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, which is set for March 14, and she says she will be looking to run even quicker than she did in Osaka. “I want to keep my legs in perfect condition and go for 2:50 or 2:51,” she said.

This might seem too ambitious, but as the JRN article notes, Yugeta struggled in the final weeks of her build to the Osaka Women’s marathon. She reportedly dealt with fatigue (which is understandable, as she runs incredibly high mileage, hitting 800K per month in the summers) and pain in her glutes. Fortunately, she was able to remedy this discomfort through acupuncture treatments, and she said her run in Osaka was pain-free.

Still, even though she felt fine on race day doesn’t mean the ghosts of those nagging issues weren’t affecting her. With those problems behind her, she could have a better build ahead of the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, which could mean the W60 world record will be lowered once again.

(02/02/2021) Views: 758 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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Tokyo Olympians finish 1, 2 in Osaka Women's Marathon

Japan Olympic team member Mao Ichiyama won the Osaka Women's Marathon in a race record 2 hours, 21 minutes, 11 seconds on Sunday, finishing ahead of fellow Tokyo Olympian Honami Maeda.

Organizers moved this year's race off public streets due to the coronavirus pandemic, rerouting it to 14-plus laps of a 2.8-kilometer circuit around Osaka's Nagai Park, finishing inside Yanmar Stadium Nagai.

Ichiyama's time was about two minutes shy of the Japan women's record of 2:19:12 run by 2004 Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi at the September 2005 Berlin Marathon.

Both Ichiyama and Maeda entered the race aiming to break Noguchi's record, but Maeda fell off the pace early on, while Ichiyama's pace slackened around the halfway point.

Ichiyama did break Noguchi's meet record of 2:21:18 from 2003, while Maeda still managed a personal best of 2:23:30.

 

(01/31/2021) Views: 567 ⚡AMP
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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Osaka Women´s Marathon is focused just on Japanese elite runners

Due to increasing infection rates in Japan the number of participants in the 40th Osaka Women’s Marathon on 31 January has been limited to 99 and the traditional course through the city changed to a 2.8km lap (x 15) in Nagai Park followed by the finish in the Yanmar Nagai Stadium.

For the same reasons foreign athletes have not been invited and the focus is entirely on the Japanese elite.

Among those running are Mao Ichiyama (JPN) and Honami Maeda (JPN), who have already qualified for their country’s Olympic team at the Marathon Grand Championships. Ichiyama won the Nagoya marathon in 2:20:29 last year, while Maeda won the Olympic qualification in 2:25:15 in September 2019.

Her best time of 2:23:48 was second in Osaka in 2018, and in the same year she was seventh in 2:25:23 in the Berlin Marathon.

The organizers plan to attack the national record for the women’s marathon of 2:19:12 (set by Mizuki Noguchi at the 2005 Berlin Marathon). The two top runners, in another departure from tradition, will be paced by a total of six men, including the unattached runner Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) and Juji Iwata (JPN).

With personal bests of 2:08:14 and 2:08:45 respectively they are likely to maintain pacing duties until shortly before the stadium entrance.

(01/29/2021) Views: 568 ⚡AMP
by Helmut Winter
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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Osaka Women's Marathon will be Run on 2.8 km Loop Inside Nagai Park

On Jan. 17 it was learned that the Jan. 31 Osaka International Women's Marathon will be run on a multi-lap loop course inside Nagai Park. Some of the athletes scheduled to run were notified last week of the likelihood of the change from Osaka's traditional road course, a change made as a result of the continued spread of the coronavirus.

It is the first time the race will be run on a circuit course in the years since its first running in 1982. 

Tokyo Olympics women's marathon team members Mao Ichiyama (23, Wacoal) and Honami Maeda (24, Tenmaya) had planned to try to break the 2:19:12 national record in Osaka, but the impact of the change on times run there remains unclear at this point.

Osaka organizers have recruited male pacers, a first for a domestic women's marathon, to help chase the record, but with the government's declaration of a state of emergency last week they had no choice but to make the last-minute course change. 

Most road races over the last year have been canceled or postponed. In the midst of those circumstances it was all but impossible for Osaka organizers to go ahead with their race as usual, and the field was cut back to just 99 athletes, about a fifth the usual number.

Despite calls for the public to stay home and watch the race on TV, it was inevitable that some fans would turn up along the course, and the logistics of the race's usual format meant the need for a large number of operations personnel for duties like traffic control and drink stations. Many of those tend to be elderly people.

The change to a circuit course helped to significantly reduce the number of people needed, mitigating the risk of spreading the virus. 

Over the last few months a number of other races have been held inside parks instead of on public roads. October's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai half marathon was held on an officially-certified 2.6 km circuit course around the runway at Tokyo's Tachikawa SDF Airbase, with 46 university teams taking part. November's East Japan Corporate Men's Ekiden likewise took place inside a park in Kumagaya, Saitama, with 24 teams covering a total of 76.4 km on a 4.2 km loop.

Amateur races have been held using loop courses along riverbanks. Overseas, October's London Marathon was held on a 2.15 km loop.

Osaka's traditional course was certified by both the JAAF and World Athletics, but it remains to be seen what the status of the new course will be. Consisting of 15 laps of a flat 2.8 km loop followed by a track finish inside Yanmar Stadium Nagai, the possibility of running a fast time looks considerable, but first the new course must be officially certified. With just half a year left until the Tokyo Olympics this will all but definitely by the last pre-Olympic marathon for both Ichiyama and Maeda, but it's hard to see this as a good simulation of racing in Sapporo.

Following the forced relocation of the Olympic marathon from Tokyo to Sapporo and the postponement of the Olympics, Osaka's course change is the latest hurdle for both women to clear in their quest to compete with the best in the world.

(01/19/2021) Views: 615 ⚡AMP
by Brett Larner
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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Osaka Women´s Marathon is set to go ahead despite state of emergency

Despite the pending declaration of a state of emergency in the greater Osaka area as the coronavirus continues its rapid spread, the organizers of the Jan. 31 Osaka International Women's Marathon intend to go ahead with this year's race, in which Tokyo Olympic marathon team members Mao Ichiyama (23, Wacoal) and Honami Maeda (24, Tenmaya) are entered to run.

Last year the JAAF published strict guidelines for the staging of road races amid the coronavirus pandemic. One of the requirements for holding a race is that no declaration of a state of emergency be in place.

On Jan. 7 the government issued such a declaration for Tokyo and is surrounding three prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa. Osaka and neighboring Kyoto and Hyogo have asked to be added to that list.

If the terms of the state of emergency are the same as the earlier one for the Tokyo area, it would last until at least Feb. 7. This would put the Osaka International Women's Marathon inside the emergency period, but race organizers insist it would still be held.

The declaration would limit the number of people able to attend events, but in principle it would still be possible to stage sporting events. Osaka organizers have already announced that Nagai Stadium, the marathon's start and finish point, will not be open to the public, and have asked that people watch on TV rather than cheering courseside.

Fewer than 100 athletes are entered, and all will be required to present a negative PCR test in order to participate.

 

(01/12/2021) Views: 648 ⚡AMP
by Brett Larner
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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2021 Osaka International Women's Marathon will Be Held Jan 31 With Limited Field

On Nov. 11 the organizers of the Osaka International Women's Marathon announced that the race's 40th anniversary running will take place on Jan. 31, 2021.

Along with strict anti-coronavirus health check requirements for all participants, the field size will be limited by tightening Osaka's usual sub-3:10 qualifying standard to sub-2:50. Fans, supporters and locals will also be asked to watch the race on TV instead of turning out to cheer courseside. 

A spokesperson for the organizing committee commented, "We expect the sub-2:50 qualifying time to reduce the field size from about 500 to around 100. We had originally planned to have more runners for the race, but we hope that people can understand the necessity of these restrictions.

We hope that the race will show greater than ever unity in women's marathoning and its willingness to take on the challenges leading to the Olympics."

The domestic invited elite athlete field is scheduled to be announced in late December. The race will begin at 12:10 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2021 starting and finishing at Osaka's Yanmar Stadium Nagai. The half marathon usually staged alongside the marathon has already been canceled for 2021.

Translator's note: Although the article specifies that a domestic elite field will be announced in late December, the Japanese-language guidelines mention domestic and international elite athletes. 

(11/11/2020) Views: 614 ⚡AMP
by Brett Larner
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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Breaking away from her final challenger after 30km, Mizuki Matsuda went on to win the Osaka Women’s Marathon in 2:21:47 on Sunday

It was the third-fastest time in the history of the Osaka Women’s Marathon and puts Matsuda sixth on the Japanese all-time list, but more importantly, she ran under the time (2:22:22) required to be considered for the third spot on the Japanese Olympic marathon team.

If no one runs faster than 2:21:47 at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in March, Matsuda will clinch the team spot.

“I don't think anybody in Japan can run such a time,” said Matsuda, who finished fourth at last year's Marathon Grand Championship, Japan's main trial race for the Olympic Games.

“It was not the time I was hoping for, but I had achieved the minimum requirement,” added Matsuda, who also won in Osaka in 2018. “In order to be competitive at the Olympics, I need a national-record-level personal best. I also need to work on the final part of the race because I slowed down too much at the end today.”

The race was fast from the start with Matsuda clocking 16:36 at 5km, 33:07 at 10km, 49:44 at 15km and 1:06:17 at 20km. “In the early part of the race I was bit worried that we were going too fast,” said Matsuda, who reached the half-way mark in 1:09:54. “It was faster than my half marathon personal best (1:10:25).”

By 25km, the lead pack consisted of Matsuda, Bahrain’s Mimi Belete and two pace-makers. “The race went well until 30km,” said Matsuda, “but then it started to get tough. Each kilometre felt very long.

“I knew four runners had faster personal bests, so I expected them to be running in front of me. When I started to run alone in front (after 30km), I looked around and asked myself, ‘where are they?’ I was running with the goal of breaking the national record (2:19:12). I had to think that way to get under 2:22.”

Immediately after the 30km check point, Matsuda checked her watch and appeared to pick up the pace for the next two kilometres. She was unable to get back on schedule for a finishing time inside 2:20, but she started to open up a gap on Belete before going on to win in 2:21:47.

Belete, who suffered from stomach problems, particularly in the latter stages, held on for second place in 2:22:40, just 78 seconds shy of the PB she set in Amsterdam three months ago.

“In my country the Olympic team spots are given to those with the fastest times,” explained Belete. “Although someone may run a faster time, I think I can be selected with the today’s time.”

Ethiopia’s Sintayehu Lewetegn finished third with 2:23:03, the second-fastest time of her career and just 18 seconds short of her personal best. Meskerem Assefa, one of the favourites, was fourth while Australian veteran Lisa Weightman was fifth in 2:26:02, the second-fastest time of her career.

Matsuda and compatriot Haruka Yamaguchi, who clocked 2:26:35 as the second Japanese finisher, were the only athletes among the top 10 to set a PB.

Last year’s runner-up Rei Ohara was suffering from a cold and achilles problems. She lost contact with the leaders after 17km and eventually finished 13th in 2:28:12.

Kayoko Fukushi, the 2013 world bronze medallist, lost contact with the leaders after 20km and dropped out after 25km. “I will start my training with running the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in mind,” said Fukushi, who is still pursuing what would be a fifth consecutive Olympic team.

(01/28/2020) Views: 956 ⚡AMP
by World Athletics
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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Ethiopian Haftamnesh Tesfay leads a quartet of sub-2:22 runners at the 39th edition of the Osaka Women’s Marathon

Four runners from abroad have faster personal bests than the Japanese: Ethiopians Tesfay and Meskerem Assefa, Mimi Belete of Bahrain and Kenyan Bornes Jepkirui. Tesfay ran 2:20:13 in her debut at the 2018 Dubai Marathon, at the time the fourth fastest marathon debut in history. She followed up with a 2:20:47 run in Frankfurt later that year. Assefa won the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in 2018 and later in the year finished 11 seconds ahead of Tesfay in Frankfurt with a 2:20:36 PB. Although they did not have a good 2019 season, both have sub-2:20 potential and said they are running to win on Sunday.

With a 2:21:22 performance to her credit, Mimi Belete is the third fastest in the field; more importantly, she set that at last October’s Amsterdam Marathon, clipping more than a minute from her previous best. Belete was a solid performer on the track, with 1500m and 5000m medals Asian Games medals in her collection.

Defending champion Fatuma Sado and Jepkirui, who was third last year, are back. Jepkirui improved her personal best to 2:21:26 in the 2019 Ljubljana Marathon. The last runner to win back-to-back titles was Lidia Simon who won in 1999 and 2000. Before the Romanian, Katrin Dorre also collected back-to-back victories. The German won in Osaka a record four times. Her daughter, Katharina Steinruck, a 2:27:26 marathoner, will be running this year.

For Japanese women, it is the second to last opportunity to secure the third spot on the Olympic marathon squad. The first two finishers at September's Marathon Grand Championships (MGC) were automatically selected for the team. But third place finisher Rei Ohara, who finished four seconds behind the automatic-qualifying spot for the team, is not confirmed. Four years ago at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, Ohara finished one second behind Tomomi Tanaka who clinched the final spot on the team bound for Rio. Thus Ohara is a sentimental favourite here, but if somebody runs faster than 2:22:22 in Osaka, or later in Nagoya, Ohara will be out.

Ohara could have chosen to sit and wait, but she decided run in Osaka.

“The memory of missing the team by one second four years ago still haunts me,” Ohara said, speaking at today’s pre-race press conference. “I could have sat and waited, but I want to be a challenger. On Sunday I want to go after the team berth which eluded me at the MGC.”

That sets up the clash between Ohara, who was third in the MGC, Mizuki Matsuda, fourth in the MGC and Kayoko Fukushi, seventh in the MGC, as a potential highlight of the race. Fukushi is the fastest with a 2:22:17 personal best from the 2016 Osaka race. Matsuda is six seconds slower with 2:22:23, recorded in the 2018 Berlin Marathon.

“I have done the best training possible,” said Matsuda, who also attended today’s press conference. “I will run on Sunday as if it is the last race of my life.”

Finally, newly minted Japanese half marathon record holder Hitomi Niiya, who blitzed to a 1:06:38 victory in Houston last weekend, will run as a pacemaker. 

(01/24/2020) Views: 1,171 ⚡AMP
by World Athletics
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Osaka International Womens Marathon

Osaka International Womens Marathon

The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...

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