There was a full slate of World Athletics Label road race action this weekend, with marathons in Fukuoka, Kunming, Singapore, Tunis and Libreville, Gabon.
Dazza dominates at Fukuoka
Breaking away from Taku Fujimoto just after 30 kilometres, El Mahjoub Dazza of Morocco won the 73rd Fukuoka Marathon, a World Athletics Label race, on Sunday (1). Dazza won by more than two minutes in 2:07:10 while Fujimoto, who planned an assault on the Japanese national record, was a distant second in 2:09:36.
The pace makers, led by 2:05 marathoner Bidan Karoki, pushed the tempo to target the 2:05:50 Japanese national record. Three Japanese – Taku Fujimoto, Yuki Sato and Takashi Ichida - took up the challenge which if successful, would have also landed them the third spot on the Japanese Olympic marathon team. They set off with the lead pack which included Amanuel Mesel, Shadrack Kiplagat, Raymond Choge, Worknesh Derese and Dazza, the pre-race favourite. The pack covered the opening five kilometres in 14:51, 10 kilometres in 29:48, 15 kilometres in 44:42, and 20 in 59:42 to reach the half in 1:03:02, all faster than the national record split.
After reaching 25 kilometres in 1:14:35, the pack was reduced one kilometre later to just Fujimoto, Sato, Dazza and Derese. One kilometre later Sato and Derese also fell behind, leaving Fujimoto and Dazza to duel it out. After Karoki, the final pace maker, dropped out at 30 kilometres (1:29:33), Dazza started to push the pace and easily pulled away from Fujimoto. Although Dazza slowed after 35 kilometres (15:35 between 35 to 40Km), he still won comfortably to capture a second consecutive marathon win after his triumph in Prague in May. Dazza has ran four marathons in his career, never than his 2:08:33 debut.
Fujimoto, who was ahead of Suguro Osako’s national record pace until the 30th kilometre, slowed dramatically after 35km with a 16:35 5km split, but still held on for second in 2:09:36, the second fastest of his career.
Jo Fukuka, who came from behind in the final kilometre, finished third with 2:10:33.
In his debut over the distance, Worknesh Derese finished fourth with 2:10:52. A graduate of Japan’s Takushoku University, Derese competes for the Hiramatsu Hospital Track team. Michael Githae, another runner with a Japanese connection, was sixth with 2:10:59.
Yuki Sato, who stayed with the leaders on national record pace until kilometre 27, fell apart after 35 kilometre and finished a disappointing 15th in 2:14:56.
Running in his 99th marathon, Yuki Kawauchi was as always a tenacious runner, moving up from 25th position at 30 kilometres to 20th at 35 before finally finishing 12th in 2:12:50.
1. El Mohjoub Dazza (MAR) 2:07:10 (14:52, 29:49, 44:43, 59:42, 63:02, 1:14:36, 1:29:33, 1:44:41, 2:00:16)
2. Taku Fujimoto (JPN) 2:09:36
3. Jo Fukuda (JPN) 2:10:33
4. Workneh Derese (ETH) 2:10:52
5. Natsuki Terada (JPN) 2:10:55 6. Michael Githae (KEN) 2:10:59
12. Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 2:12:50
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Course records smashed in Kunming
Ethiopians Mulu Seboka and Dereje Debele broke the course records at the SCO Kunming International Marathon, a World Athletics Bronze Label road race in the southwestern Chinese city on Sunday (1).
As the fastest entrant on paper with a personal best of 2:21:56, the 35-year-old Seboka lived up to expectations to take the women’s race under sunny and cool conditions in 2:32:54, breaking the previous course record of 2:33:53 set three years ago by Kenya’s Rodah Chepkorir.
Seboka led the race, together with compatriots Almaz Negede and Worke Degu Amena as well as Shelmith Nyawira of Kenya, to the 10-kilometre mark in 36:43 and 15km in 55:10.
The 2019 Gran Canaria Marathon winner Nyawira faded away after 17 kilometres while Seboka broke clear soon after the halfway point and enjoyed a comfortable lead until crossing the finish line.
It was the fourth marathon title for Seboka in China following her victory in Shenzhen last year and back-to-back titles in Dalian. She also finished third at the Beijing Marathon last month.
The 32-year-old Negede, winner of last year’s Rennes Marathon, was second in 2:34:59. Alice Jepkemboi of Kenya, who set her lifetime best of 2:28:19 last April in Rome, rallied to finish third in 2:39:35.
The top three finishers in the men’s race all beat the 2:20:49 course record set by 2018 winner Olkeba Jene, with Debele taking top honours in 2:13:18.
After a leading group of nine paced the race through the first 20 kilometres in 1:03:10, the 33-year-old Debele, whose PB of 2:07:48 was set six years ago in Dusseldorf, launched a powerful surge near the 23-kilometre mark to break away.
He kept widening the gap, leading by 43 seconds at the 30 kilometre water stations and extended it to 56 seconds by 35 kilometres.
Although Debele slowed in the closing stages of the race, no one could stop him from celebrating his first triumph over the classic distance in three years.
Fellow Ethiopian Tela Hagos Gebremeskel, who finished third in Kunming last year, upgraded to second place in 2:14:06. Urga Ararisa Negewo was another 38 seconds behind to complete a podium sweep for Ethiopia.
Vincent Wu for the IAAF
Cherono defies heat to smash Singapore course record
Priscah Cherono successfully defended her title at the Singapore Marathon, taking more than three minutes off the course record at the World Athletics Gold Label road race on Saturday (30).
Fellow Kenyan Joshua Kipkorir also retained his title, winning the men’s race in 2:19:13.
Cherono, the 2006 world cross-country silver medallist, was joined by compatriot Stella Barsosio for the first 30 kilometres and it was clear from the early pace that the course record of 2:31:55, set in 2006 by Salina Kosgei, would be under threat. They passed through 10 kilometres in 33:48 before reaching half way in 1:11:39, putting them on schedule for a finishing time just outside 2:23:00.
The race had been scheduled to take place in the evening to escape the peak temperatures, but it was still 30C by the time the race started at 6pm and eventually the heat took its toll as the leading duo’s pace slowed in the second half.
Cherono and Barsosio reached 30km in 1:43:23, but Barsosio was unable to keep up with Cherono for much longer and started to drift behind. Cherono’s pace also dropped in the final 10 kilometres, but her gap over Barsosio continued to grow.
The 39-year-old reached the finish line in 2:28:52, amazingly just 71 seconds shy of the PB she set three years ago. Barsosio finished second in 2:30:18, almost seven minutes shy of the PB she set in Rotterdam earlier this year, but well inside Singapore’s previous course record.
Ethiopia’s Alemnesh Guta was a distant third in 2:37:05, just 14 seconds ahead of Mamitu Daska.
While the conditions didn’t seem to slow the leading women, the times in the men’s race were some way off the course record.
It was nevertheless an exciting race as Kipkorir carved out a significant lead in the first half, passing through the half-way point in 1:04:39, two minutes ahead of his nearest opponent and putting him well on course to finish inside the course record of 2:11:25, set 10 years ago by 2007 world champion Luke Kibet.
By the time Kipkorir reached 35km (1:50:49), his lead had grown to almost four minutes. Bahrain’s former 1500m specialist Benson Seurei, who withdrew from the marathon at the recent World Championships in Doha, was in second place at this point, 16 seconds ahead of Barselius Kipyego and 2015 world bronze medallist Solomon Mutai of Uganda.
The race came alive in the final five kilometres as Kipkorir’s pace suddenly dropped. It took him more than 19 minutes to cover the five-kilometre segment between 35 and 40km, by which point his lead was less than two minutes.
Mutai passed Kipyego and then overtook Seurei to move into second place. He could see Kipkorir out in front and was gaining on him with every stride, but the defending champion managed to hold on to his lead, crossing the line in 2:19:14.
Mutai, having made up three minutes on the leader in the final five kilometres, followed just 34 seconds later to finish second in 2:19:48. Seurei held on for third place in 2:20:22.