Ukraine’s Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko winning the 2015 Osaka Women's Marathon (© Takeo Yamaguchi - Agence SHOT)
Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko won the Osaka Women’s Marathon for the third straight year setting a Ukrainian record of 2:22:09 at the IAAF Silver Label Road Race on Sunday (25).
She also became just the second runner to win the race on three consecutive occasions, matching the feat of Romania’s Lidia Simon from 1998-2000.
Unlike in 2013 and 2014, Gamera-Shmyrko uncharacteristically held the lead for much of the race, pulling away after passing 5km in 17:05.
“My coach told me the target times at the check point and it was little slow at 5km, so I decided to push the pace,” said Gamera-Shmyrko.
Risa Shigetomo, the 2012 Osaka champion, decided to chase the leader at about eight kilometres. By 10km, passed in 33:41, Shigetomo had not only caught Gamera-Shmyrko but decided to push the pace herself, with Gamera-Shmyrko on her shoulder.
At this point, the chasing pack, including Latvia’s 2005 Osaka winner Jelena Prokopcuka, was nine seconds behind.
However, with each stride Shigetomo and Gamera-Shmyrko were pulling away.
At 15km, reached in 50:37, they were 53 seconds in front other the rest of the field and at 20km, with 1:07:32 the split, they were 1:08 ahead.
Shigetomo and Gamera-Shmyrko passed the halfway mark together in 1:11:15 before the latter started to pull away.
Gamera-Shmyrko covered the 24th kilometre in a speedy 3:16 and by 25km (1:24:15), Gamera was 24 seconds ahead of the local hope.
Behind them, Prokopcuka was in third closely followed by debutante Chieko Kido.
Prokopcuka pushes up for second
In the next 5km, Prokopcuka accelerated to shake off Kido and at the same time started to close on Shigetomo.
At 30km, reached in 1:41:08, Gamera-Shmyrko led Shigetomo by 1:06 while Prokopcuka was right on the heels of the flagging Japanese runner.
Soon after 30km, Prokopcuka caught and passed Shigetomo, but Gamera-Shmyrko never faltered and continue to clock under 17 minutes for each 5km segment and won by nearly two minutes.
Prokopcuka, now 38, finished second in 2:24:07. A slightly arcane statistic is that it is the fastest marathon recorded by a 38-year-old woman, eclipsing the 2:24:14 clocked by Russia’s Irina Timofeyeva at the 2008 Hamburg Marathon.
In the end, Shigetomo held on for third to be the first Japanese runner home.
Her finishing time was 2:26:39, the second fastest time of her career, behind her winning time of 2:23:23 from the 2012 Osaka Women’s Marathon.
She was followed home by Yuko Watanabe, third in the 2013 edition of this race, in 2:28:36 after she passed Kido in the closing stages of the race.
Kido, who tried to run with Prokopkuka in the middle part of the race, finished fifth in 2:29:08.
The weather conditions were reasonably conducive to good running, with sun and temperatures about 10 degrees Celsius, a light northerly wind and humidity at about 55%.
Kenya’s Selly Kaptich Chepyego won the accompanying Osaka Half Marathon in 1:09:43, while Japan’s Misaki Kato was second in 1:09:49. Chepyego is getting ready for the Tokyo Marathon next month.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF