Yuya Yoshida winning the 2020 Fukuoka Marathon (Kazuaki Matsunaga (Agence Shot)) © Copyright
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Yoshida triumphs at Fukuoka Marathon


Surging away from Taku Fujimoto and Cyrus Kingori in the 30th kilometre, Yuya Yoshida won the 74th Fukuoka International Marathon, a World Athletics Gold Label road race on Sunday (6), clocking 2:07:05.

Three pacesetters did an excellent job with their duties, covering each five kilometre segment, up to 30 kilometres, in just under 15 minutes. Thirteen runners made up the lead group at 10 kilometres, a pack reduced to 10 at the half, and further reduced to seven by 25 kilometres until just four remained at 30. That’s when the final pacesetter left the stage, leaving the quartet to battle it out.

Yoshida and Fujimoto took turns with the lead before Yoshida took command for good at 30.7km.

“The finishing position was more important than fast time,” Yoshida said. “I was aiming for this marathon since spring and I am happy to prove that I trained correctly.”

According to his coach, Katsuhiko Hanada, Yoshida trained to beat Yuma Hattori, who was named to Japan’s Olympic marathon squad. However, Hattori pulled out of the race at the last minute.

With his run, the second marathon of his career, Yoshida becomes the ninth fastest Japanese in history with the second fastest time by a Japanese runner in this race. He showed promise in his first marathon, the 2020 Beppu-Oita Marathon, where he clocked 2:08:30, the second fastest marathon debut by a Japanese. Yoshida was planning to quit running after graduating from college in March but after his performance at the Beppu-Oita race, he decided to keep running.

Shohei Otsuka, an alternate on the Olympic squad, came from way behind - he was running 12th at 30 kilometres - to finish second in 2:07:38, clipping more than two and a half minutes from his personal best. Natsuki Terada, who was fifth last year, finished third with 2:08:03, an improvement of nearly three minutes.

Kenyan Michael Githae, who finished one place behind Terada last year, followed suit again this year, clocking 2:08:17, also a lifetime best.

In all, seven runners cracked 2:10 all with personal bests.

Yuki Kawauchi finished 19th in 2:13:59, his 99th sub-2:20 clocking. He will chase his 100th at the Hofu Marathon in two weeks time. The event marked the final race Satoru Sasaki, a 2016 Olympian. He was 20th in 2:14:29.

Leading results (all JPN unless otherwise indicated) -

Weather: Sunny; Temperature: 13.7C, Humidity: 51%; Wind: 1.3m/s NNW

1. Yuya Yoshida 2:07:05 PB
2. Shohei Otsuka 2:07:38 PB
3. Natsuki Terada 2:08:03 PB
4. Michael Githae (KEN) 2:08:17 PB
5. Naoya Sakuda 2:08:21 PB
6. Yoshiki Takenouchi 2:09:31 PB
7. Paul Kuira (KEN) 2:09:57 PB
8. Koki Yoshioka 2:10:13
9. Asuka Tanaka 2:11:07
10. Naoki Okamoto 2:11:09
..
19. Yuki Kawauchi 2:13:59 

 Splits:

5Km - 14:56
10Km - 29:53 (14:57)
15Km - 44:46 (14:53)
20Km - 59:35 (14:49)
Half - 1:02:54
25Km - 1:14:32 (14:57)           
30Km - 1:29:31 (14:59)
35Km - 1:44:37 (15:06)
40Km - 2:00:15 (15:38)
Finish - 2:07:05 (6:50)

Ken Nakamura for World Athletics