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Ito and Mutgaa Win Nagano Marathon

by Brett Larner

Sunny and unseasonably warm conditions meant slower than usual times at the Nagano Marathon's 19th running.  Racheal Jemutai Mutgaa took the women's race out in 17:55 for the first 5 km,  on track for a low 2:31, with early company from fellow Kenyan Mirriam Wangari and Ethiopian Fantu Eticha. By 10 km Mutgaa was on her own, sailing on unchallenged to win in 2:33:00. Wangari and Eticha stayed together until near 30 km when Eticha launched a surge that put her into 2nd.  Wangari responded and in turn opened on Eticha before 35 km, but by 40 km it had turned around one more time.  Eticha took 2nd in 2:37:10, Wangari 3rd over a minute behind in 2:38:29.  Aki Otagiri (Team Tenmaya) was the top Japanese woman at 4th in 2:41:26.

The men's pack went out comparatively slower, the large lead group running just sub-2:17 pace for the first 5 km before a breakaway surge from Tatsunori Hamasaki (Nanjo City Hall) and Junichi Shioya (Takigahara SDF Base) got things moving.  Hamasaki and Shioya opened their lead to more than 30 seconds by 20 km, but at halfway Mongolian national record holder Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Team NTN) spearheaded a move to catch back up to them.  By 25 km he had overtaken both, while the rest of the chase group remained 15 seconds behind.  At 30 km Bat-Ochir had a 32-second lead over the chase pack led by serial marathoner Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) and the debuting Kazuki Onishi (Team Kanebo).  Ito began to close, and just before 40 km he overtook Bat-Ochir for the lead and the win in 2:14:39, just the second Japanese man in Nagano history to take the top spot.  Bat-Ochir faded to 2nd in 2:15:12, with the Koichi Morishita-coached Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu) 3rd in 2:15:27.

19th Nagano Marathon
Nagano, 4/16/17
click here for complete results

Women
1. Racheal Jemutai Mutgaa (Kenya) - 2:33:00
2. Fantu Eticha (Ethiopia) - 2:37:10
3. Mirriam Wangari (Kenya) - 2:38:29
4. Aki Otagiri (Japan/Tenmaya) - 2:41:26
5. Mayumi Uchiyama (Japan/Nitori) - 2:44:58

Men
1. Taiga Ito (Japan/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:14:39
2. Ser-Od Bat-Ochir (Mongolia/NTN) - 2:15:12
3. Yuki Oshikawa (Japan/Toyota Kyushu) - 2:15:27
4. Kazuki Onishi (Japan/Kanebo) - 2:15:39 - debut
5. Tatsunori Hamasaki (Japan/Nanjo City Hall) - 2:15:49

© 2017 Brett Larner
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Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

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