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Ruth Chepngetich sets Japanese’s all-comers Half-Marathon record at Gifu

Ruth Chepngetich ran away from a loaded field at the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon on Sunday (28) to win the ninth edition of the IAAF Gold Label road race in 1:06:06, the fastest half marathon ever recorded in Japan.

The Kenyan, who won this year’s Dubai Marathon in 2:17:08, took 98 seconds off the previous course record set by world record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei in 2017.

Chepngetich set out fast and by 5km (15:10), the lead pack consisted of just three runners – Chepngetich, Joan Melly Chelimo and Evaline Chirchir.

But Chirchir and then Melly were dropped before Chepngetich reached 10km in 30:45. She continued to push the pace, passing 15km in 46:44 and 20km in 1:02:41, winning comfortably in 1:06:05.

Melly Chelimo was nearly two minutes behind with 1:08:01 and Chirchir was third in 1:08:07, improving her PB by more than four minutes. World marathon champion Rose Chelimo was never a factor and finished seventh with 1:12:58.

In contrast to the women’s race, a large lead pack formed during the early stages of the men’s race as 10 men were together at 5km (14:18). When course record-holder Bedan Karoki started to push the pace 20 minutes into the race, the lead pack reduced immediately to five men.

The leader’s pace soon slackened and Japanese half marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara joined them in front. Seven runners were in the lead pack at 10km (28:42), then Nicholas Kosimbei made a bid to break away about 37 minutes into the race, and only Karoki and Amos Kurgat were able cover the move.

When Kurgat started to push the pace three minutes later, only Karoki went with him. But soon even Karoki was slowly drifting backward. Kurgat’s two-second advantage at 15km (43:05) grew to 30 seconds by 20km (57:29) and he crossed the line in a PB of 1:00:34.

It was his second consecutive half marathon victory and PB, following his 1:01:06 run at the Japanese Corporate team Half Marathon Championships in February. Karoki, the 2014 champion, finished second in 1:01:07.

(04/28/2019) ⚡AMP
by IAAF
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Bedan Karoki and Eunice Kirwa, both past winners of the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, will return to defend their titles this weekend

Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, Also known as the ‘Naoko Takahashi Cup’ as it is held in the home town of the 2000 Olympic marathon champion, the men’s course record of 1:00:02 was set by Karoki when he won in 2014, while the women’s course record of 1:07:44 was set by world record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei in 2017.

Karoki, world ranked No.13 in road running, will be aiming to become just the second two-time men’s champion in Gifu. Since his last run in Gifu, Karoki earned world silver medals at cross-country in 2015 and at the half marathon in 2016.

He also improved his half marathon PB to 58:42 in 2018 and earlier this year clocked a marathon best of 2:06:48 to finish second in Tokyo.

His main challengers are Eritrea’s Samuel Tsegay, who has a best of 59:21, Abraham Kipyatich, world ranked No.79, and Uganda’s Abdallah Mande, world ranked No.30. Tsegay’s best was recorded back in 2014, but Kipyatich and Mande both set PBs at various distances in 2018 so will likely be bigger threats to Karoki.

Yuki Kawauchi, the 2018 Boston Marathon champion, is the most famous Japanese runner in the field, but national half marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara is the fastest of the domestic entrants. Shitara’s half marathon best is 60:17 recorded in 2017.

Two time Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon champion Eunice Kirwa Jepkirui leads the loaded women’s field. The Olympic marathon silver medallist set an Asian half marathon record of 1:06:46 in Istanbul in 2017 in what was her last race over the distance.

The 2015 world bronze medallist didn’t race at all in 2018, though, and she may need to be at her best if she hopes to win her third title in Gifu.

Joan Melly Chelimo, world ranked No.3 in road running, has the fastest PB of the field. The Kenyan clocked 1:05:04 in Prague last year, making her the fourth-fastest woman in history for the distance.

Ruth Chepngetich, world ranked No.1 in the marathon, heads to Gifu in the form of her life. She won this year’s Dubai Marathon in 2:17:08, the third-fastest time in history, and followed it with half marathon performances of 1:06:09 and 1:05:29.

World marathon champion Rose Chelimo will be aiming to improve on her PB of 1:08:08, while Ana Dulce Felix, Mimi Belete and Gotytom Gebreslase are also in the field.

(04/26/2019) ⚡AMP
by Ken Nakamura
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Gifu Half Marathon

Gifu Half Marathon

The Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon is an annual half marathon road running competition held in Gifu, Japan. First held in 2011, the race is also called the Naoko Takahashi Cup, named after Naoko Takashi, the retired local runner who won the marathon at the 2000 Sidney Olympics and broke the marathon world record in 2001, becoming the first woman to...

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Tokyo Marathon silver medalist Bedan Karoki will compete in the Gifu Half Marathon on April 28 in Japan

Tokyo Marathon silver medalist Bedan Karoki believes he is on a good trajectory to dominate the road races and will hope to add the Gifu Half Marathon title to his collection on Sunday.

Karoki hopes to make the Kenya team to this year's World Championships in Doha, Qatar, but would prefer to run in the marathon, having failed on three occasions to win the 10,000m race.

"I have always had a fast-paced first phase of my marathon races, or even on track, but I am not strong in finishing," said Karoki on Tuesday. "I have the much-needed experience in marathon and track and I hope for a break this time around."

Karoki faces Jorum Okumbo and Japanese former marathon record-holder Yuta Shitara.

The fastest entrant in the women's race is Chepngetich's teammate Joan Chelimo, who clocked 65:04 to win in Prague last year.

However, Chepngetich is certain her strong preparations for the race will pay dividends, enabling her prevail and win gold over the 21km distance.

"I want to use the race as part of my preparation for the marathon," she said on Tuesday in Nairobi. "There are stronger and faster athletes in the race, but it will not be important on race day because how you run on that day is what is important. I hope to be successful."

Bahrain's Olympic marathon silver medalist Eunice Kirwa will also be staking her claim to the title in her bid to dominate the Asian road races.

Kirwa, who trains and lives in Eldoret and raced for Kenya until 2013, will have to be cautious of the challenge her former teammates will pose.

Also featuring will be world marathon champion Rose Chelimo of Bahrain and Japan's Miyuki Uehara.

Chelimo has had a poor season this year, finishing in position 41 at the World Half Marathon championships, and was eighth at the Tokyo Marathon in March.

However, a win on her return to Japan in Nagano will boost her credentials as she prepares to defend her crown at the 2019 World Championships in Doha this October.

"I did everything right in my preparations for the Tokyo Marathon, but I was not lucky enough to win," said Chelimo.

(04/16/2019) ⚡AMP
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Gifu Half Marathon

Gifu Half Marathon

The Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon is an annual half marathon road running competition held in Gifu, Japan. First held in 2011, the race is also called the Naoko Takahashi Cup, named after Naoko Takashi, the retired local runner who won the marathon at the 2000 Sidney Olympics and broke the marathon world record in 2001, becoming the first woman to...

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Canada’s Andrea Seccafien is primarily a track runner but runs a solid Half Marathon

It has been a big year for Andrea Seccafien. The Ontario Canada native moved across the world from Toronto to Melbourne, Australia in September of 2017. Seccafien now trains with Melbourne Track Club, among some of the best female distance runners in the world. MTC is a club that consists primarily of Olympians, most of which are Olympics finalists. Seccafien has had a whirlwind two years on the track, making both the Olympic and World Championship teams, as well as achieving a personal best of 15:08.59 in the 5,000m. Australia seems to suit Seccafien. On Sunday (April 22) she ran her first half marathon at the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon in a time of 1:13:19. That is a strong debut, especially considering she is primarily a track athlete and it is still quite early in the season. The Canadian half marathon record is currently held by Rachel Cliff at 1:10:08. With focus she might be able to run that fast. (04/24/2018) ⚡AMP
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Boston Marathon's Champion Yuki Kawauchi is already Racing again on Sunday

The three most recent winners of the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon will clash on Sunday. Earlier this week Kawauchi became the first Japanese runner to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years. In a gripping race held in harsh conditions, Kawauchi put in numerous surges with his final effort proving decisive. He crossed the finish line in 2:15:58 to beat world champion Geoffrey Kirui by more than two minutes. It was Kawauchi’s fifth consecutive marathon victory – all of which have been achieved in a four-month time span – but his record at the half marathon isn’t quite as strong. He has contested the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon on five previous occasions but is yet to finish inside the top 10. But his performance on Monday once again showed that distance-running fans should always expect the unexpected from Kawauchi. The 31-year-old currently works 40 hours a week as a civil servant, but he recently announced that he will leave his job and turn professional next year. “I need to change my environment (to move up to another level),” he said. “I have not improved my personal best for five years. I want to see my true potential as a runner. I am determined to compete against the best in the world. (04/20/2018) ⚡AMP
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Women's field is small but high-quality at Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon

Women's world record holder and defending champion Joyciline Jepkosgei from Kenya and last year's top man Alexander Mutiso return to lead the elite fields for the April 22 Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon. The women's field is small but high-quality at the front end, with Eunice Chumba (Bahrain) and Valary Jemeli (Kenya) joining Jepkosgei under the 68-minute mark and additional support coming from sub-70 runners Joy Kemuma (Kenya) and Karolina Nadolska (Poland). The top Japanese woman in last summer's London World Championships marathon, Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) again leads the way as the fastest Japanese woman at 1:10:31. Most of Gifu's budget clearly went to the women's race, as the men's field is made up almost entirely of Japan-based athletes. (04/03/2018) ⚡AMP
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