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JAPAN - Five under 2:24 in Osaka Marathon


Mizuki Noguchi, in her second marathon (she won on her debut at Nagoya in March 2002 in 2:25:35) moved to eighth on the world all-time list to win a great womens marathon in Osaka. In second place Masako Chiba improved from 2:25:11 (2nd Rotterdam 2002) to 2:21:45 and Naoko Sakamoto (22) ran a stunning 2:21:51, a time bettered only by Paula Radcliffe for a womens marathon debut. In fourth Lornah Kiplagat took 14 seconds off her two year-old pb while Mari Ozaki, in fifth place, debuted with 2:23:30. The previous course record of 2:22:54 was held by Lidia Simon.

Ken Nakamura reports: It was mostly Noguchi and Miwako Yamanaka who took turns to lead the pack through the first 5k in 16:41 and the race of attrition had started. The 10k mark was reached in 33:12 and 15k in 49:57, and at both of these aid stations Noguchi missed her individual bottle and had to settle for regular water. Yamanaka, who was fourth in last years World Cross Country Champs and was reportedly in 2:20 shape, suddenly fell away from the lead pack after being near the front until halfway (70:21) and dropped out at 24.7k. Her coach later explained that she had sprained an ankle at the sharp turn-around point.

That left five runners in contention: Kiplagat, Noguchi, Ozaki, Chiba and Sakamoto.Although both Ozaki and Sakamoto, who have half marathon bests of 69:34 and 69:27 respectively, were marathon debutantes, they were comfortably staying with the leaders. At this point Sakamoto looked so good, it was almost scary and at around 25k (1:23:40) she came up to share the lead with Noguchi. The turning point was 30k (1:40:34) when Sakamoto started to push the pace; the next kilometre being covered in approx 3:16. Ozaki, Kiplagat and Chiba lost contact in that order. "Before the race I was told that the real racing starts at 30k, so when I was told to go for it I decided to go," said Sakamoto, who is coached by 2:11 marathoner Yutaka Taketomi. At 35k (1:56:55), Chiba and Kiplagat were about 100m behind the leaders, Sakamoto and Noguchi. With 5k to go, Noguchi pushed the pace; a gap opened but Sakamoto worked her way back. Noguchi tried again at 38.5k and it worked this time. By 40k (2:13:51) she led Sakamoto by 14 sec, while Chiba was another 22 sec behind. With less than a kilometre remaining, Chiba passed the faltering Sakamoto to move into second place. Noguchi, Chiba and Sakamoto became the second, fourth and fifth fastest ever Japanese performers. "My next goal is to win a medal in Paris," said Noguchi.

Jan 26, Osaka: (8ºC, 40% humidity, little wind)
1, Noguchi 2:21:18; 2, Chiba 2:21:45; 3, Sakamoto 2:21:51; 4, L Kiplagat KEN 2:22:22; 5, Ozaki 2:23:30; 6, Talpos ROM 2:27:32; 7, M Tanaka 2:29:57; 8, A Fujikawa 2:30:13; 9, Klimina RUS 2:31:56; 10, M Tagami 2:34:36; 11, T Terauchi 2:34:37; 12, A Ichimaru 2:37:07; 13, Liu Min CHN 2:39:18; 14, S Kawai 2:39:38; dnf, McCann AUS, Yamanaka.

Running only his second marathon, Samson Ramadhani (21) of Tanzania improved from 2:14:45 to 2:09:24 to win the 52nd annual Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, reports Ken Nakamura. Despite near ideal conditions the race started quite slowly and halfway was reached in 65:12 but the second half was exactly a minute faster. Ramadhani, who had been invited to the race based on his 61:05 half marathon best, said. "I was hoping to run sub-2:10, so I am very happy to achieve my goal".

Unlike the other three big marathons in Japan - Tokyo, Fukuoka and Lake Biwa ? this was not a selection race for the World Championships and thus the very best Japanese who were hoping to make the team for Paris were absent. However, the race did act as an Australian trial and Nick Harrison ran a very smart race to finish third in a pb of 2:10:22. "I am now faster than my coach Chris Wardlaw," said Harrison, who was delighted with making the World Champs team as well as running an Olympic team qualifying time.

Feb 2: Beppu-Oita: Mar: 1, Ramadhani TAN 2:09:24; 2, Teferi Wodajo ETH 2:10:18; 3, Harrison AUS 2:10:22; 4, Y Sato 2:10:43 (debut); 5, T Tsutsumi 2:10:53; 6, T Sassa 2:11:25; 7, K Inagaki 2:12:25; 8, J Palalia MEX 2:13:53; Marugame: HMar: 1, Z Ngatho KEN 60:21; 2, S Okuda 62:02; 3, S Fujii 62:09; 4, Y Yamaguchi 62:11; 5, T Tokunaga 62:11; 6, S Nakai 62:14; women - 1, Y Hashimoto 69:31; 2, M Kobayashi 70:14; 3, A Ozaki 70:31; 4, R Amou 71:40; 5, E Nakajima 72:15; 6, Y Komatsu 72:26.

Vol 11 No 3: February 5, 2003 Edited by Peter Matthews & Mel Watman - Peter Matthews, Editor International Athletics Annual, Co-editor Athletics International, Chairman NUTS 10 Madgeways Close, Great Amwell, Ware, Herts SG12 9RU, England Tel. 44 (0)1920 870434, Fax 44 (0)1920 877392

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