Mizuki Matsuda caught and passed Honami Maeda with 12 kilometres remaining of the Osaka International Women’s Marathon before going on to win the IAAF Gold Label road race on Sunday (28) in 2:22:44 on her debut at the distance.
Three pace makers – Flomena Cheyech Daniel, Eloise Wellings and Rahma Tusa – did a good job of pushing the pace at the designated time. They covered the first five kilometres in 17:06, the next five-kilometre segment in 17:05, and the next in 17:03.
The lead pack covered the section between 15 and 20 kilometres in 17:00. During that time, Gladys Tejeda of Peru and Kaori Yoshida fell off the pace after 15.5 kilometres. Eunice Jeptoo was the next casualty; the Kenyan fell off the pace after 19 kilometres. Soon afterwards, at about 20.5 kilometres, Jeptoo stopped running.
The lead pack of two pace makers, three Japanese – Mizuki Matsuda, Honami Maeda, Yuka Ando – and Ethiopian Goytatom Gebreselassie covered the first half of the race in 1:11:59. Gebreselassie fell off the pace just after half way and it soon became clear that there would be a Japanese winner.
Maeda made the first of her moves soon after the half-way point, throwing in splits of 3:20 and 3:17 between 25 and 27 kilometres to leave behind the pacemakers and her two opponents. “I felt really good at 25km, so I decided to push the pace,” she said afterwards.
“My plan was to run with the pace maker until 30km, so I was not worried when Maeda made her move,” said eventual winner Matsuda after the race.
Matsuda left Ando behind after 28 kilometres and started to chase Maeda. Having reached 30 kilometres in 1:42:01 with Matsuda just four seconds behind, Maeda was eventually caught by her compatriot about 800 metres later. Maeda tried to keep up with Matsuda for a while, but Matsuda surged ahead at 31 kilometres.
“Before the race I was thinking about making a move during the uphill section after 30 kilometres, so when I caught Maeda there I decided to surge,” explained Matsuda. After covering the next two kilometres in 3:15 and 3:14, Matsuda was finally alone in front and had a 14-second lead over Maeda.
Matsuda continued to push the pace and passed 40 kilometres in 2:15:17, eventually crossing the finish line in 2:22:44, the third fastest marathon debut by a Japanese runner. After covering the first half in 1:11:59, Matsuda ran the second half in 1:10:45 for a significant negative split.
Maeda finished second in 2:23:48, taking five minutes off the PB she set at last year’s Hokkaido Marathon. “My goal was to break 2:26, so I am delighted with my time,” said Maeda. “I never even imagined running 2:23.”
Ando finished third in 2:27:37. She and Matsuda have now qualified to run in the Olympic marathon team trial race. Maeda had already qualified based on her win at the Hokkaido Marathon.
Anja Scherl of Germany finished fourth in 2:29:29, while Kaori Yoshida was fifth in 2:29:53. 42-year-old Mari Ozaki finished sixth in a Japanese W40 best of 2:30:03, her fastest time since 2015. Tejeda was seventh in 2:30:44.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
1 Mizuki Matsuda (JPN) 2:22:44
2 Honami Maeda (JPN) 2:23:48
3 Yuka Ando (JPN) 2:27:37
4 Anja Scherl (GER) 2:29:29
5 Kaori Yoshida (JPN) 2:29:53
6 Mari Ozaki (JPN) 2:30:03
7 Gladys Tejeda (PER) 2:30:44
8 Hitomi Mizuguchi (JPN) 2:33:10