Breaking away from his final pursuer just before the 40-kilometre mark, Kenyan Joseph Macharia Ndirangu took a 2:07:53 victory at the 73rd Lake Biwa Marathon in Otsu, Japan, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (4).
“I am very happy with my time,” said Ndirangu, who was making his debut over the distance. “The pacemakers did a good job.”
Based in Japan, Ndirangu has been running for the Aichi Steel club since 2013. With bests of 13:19.42 and 27:46.14 for 5000m and 10,000m on the track and a half-marathon best of 1:00:30, a sub-2:08 marathon by the 24-year-old didn’t come as a surprise.
Adjusting their duties to the unseasonably warm conditions, the pacesetters set off on a 3:02 tempo, two seconds slower than planned, covering the first five kilometres in 15:17, opening ten in 30:21, and 15 in 45:25.
By 35 kilometres the field was winnowed down to five -- Ndirangu, Albert Korir, Abera Kuma, Jake Robertson, Michael Githae. Two kilometres later, the latter dropped back, and the kilometre after that, Kuma was left behind as well. Korir then upped the tempo, covering the next kilometre in 2:59, a shift that was enough to drop Robertson, leaving Ndirangu and Korir to duke it out. Next came Ndirangu’s decisive move which ultimately propelled him to a 24-second victory.
Robertson, also making his marathon debut, finished third in 2:08:26, breaking New Zealand’s national record of 2:08:59 set by Rod Dixon at the 1983 New York City Marathon.
Shogo Nakamura, another debutante, was seventh overall in 2:10:51, qualifying for Japan’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic Marathon Trials. “Since my training had gone well, I thought all I needed to do was to run with confidence.”
“Everyone says that unseasonably warm weather slowed down the runners, but Ndirangu ran a 2:07 marathon today,” said Japanese running legend Toshihiko Seko. “The runners must contend with this kind of weather since the Tokyo Olympic Marathon will be contested under much worse conditions.”
Seko is the architect of the MGC, the Marathon Grand Championships series, which will select the Japan’s 2020 Olympic marathon team.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
(15:18, 30:22, 45:24,60:38, 63:56, 75:40, 1:30:51, 1:46:16, 2:01:21)