Skip to main content

Noguchi Downs Mungara and Kawauchi for Gold Coast Win, Bekele Breaks Women's Course Record


Running on his 29th birthday, Takuya Noguchi (Team Konica Minolta) became just the sixth Japanese man to ever win a marathon outside Japan in a sub-2:10 time as he shot down favorites and past champions Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) to win the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in a 2-minte-plus PB of 2:08:59. In the women's race #1-ranked Abebech Bekele (Ethiopia) became only the second Ethiopian woman to ever win Gold Coast as she took more than a minute off the year-old course record to win in 2:25:34.

Pre-race Noguchi's wife Risa Takenaka (Team Shiseido), the 2015 Gold Coast women's winner and running again this year, told JRN that he was in better shape than she was and had come in part to try to outgun Kawauchi. With a good season behind him including a 1:02:37 half marathon PB and 2:11:04 marathon PB in February and a 1:02:21 half marathon best in May Noguchi had the momentum to see that through. Two-time defending champ Mungara had called for a 2:08 race, while Kawauchi, who is set to run the London World Championships in a month's time, had hoped only to break 2:10.


For most of the race it was right on track for Mungara's target, with Kawauchi and little-known Shoya Osaki (Team Chudenko) doing most of the frontrunning behind a trio of pacers as Mungara and Noguchi sat back. Past 30 km it was down to eight, with Mungara, 2017 Barcelona Marathon winner and Paralympian Jonah Chesum (Kenya), Kawauchi, Noguchi, Osaki and others still together. Over the next 6 km heading to the final turnaround near 37 km that shook down to just the two Kenyans, Noguchi, Kawauchi and 2016 Hofu Yomiuri Marathon winner Ryo Hashimoto (Team GMO Athletes) as the real contenders threw in a series of surges.

Round the turnaround Mungara showed his knowledge of the course with a familiar from his past wins with a surge, but surprisingly it was Noguchi who parried, attacking with a move that got rid of Chesum and Hashimoto and put Kawauchi on the ropes.  From there to the final turn into the finish area it was a replay of last year's classic, Mungara and Noguchi attacking again and again and Kawauchi unable to get back on it. Just like last year Mungara pushed the lefthand corner to the finish area with 300 m to go and opened a small lead. But where Kawauchi had been unable to make it up in the home straight last year, this time Noguchi had the answer, coming back on the final turn and opening 5 seconds on Mungara in the final straight.
With a PB of over two minutes Noguchi took the win in 2:08:59, joining greats Taisuke Kodama, Takeyuki Nakayama, Toshihiko Seko, Hiromi Taniguchi and Arata Fujiwara as the sixth Japanese man in history to win a marathon under 2:10 on foreign soil. Mungara's 2:09:04 for 2nd took more than 30 seconds off his age 43 world record, with Kawauchi setting a world record of his own. More than meeting his pre-race goal as he took 3rd in 2:09:18, Kawauchi's performance was his 23rd career sub-2:12 marathon, removing Ethiopian great Abebe Mekonnen's world record of 22 from the books. Together he and Noguchi also scored Japan's 24th and 25th sub-2:10 marathon times outside Japan to add another small piece of history to the day.

Former marathon world record holder and World Championships gold medalist Rob De Castella shares the moment with Kawauchi at the finish. 

Post-race Noguchi told JRN, "The last 5 km were hard and Mungara's surges were pretty scary, but I believed in myself and told myself that if I'd come this far I had to go all the way." "He was very strong," said Mungara. Kawauchi agreed, telling JRN, "I'm surprised how tough Noguchi was. He was fantastic." At the award ceremony Kawauchi pulled out a Japanese flag and handed it to Noguchi. "I brought this," he said. "I was planning on using it myself. It's yours." Just over 6 hours later Kawauchi was on a plane home to Japan, due back at work the next day.

Bekele took the women's race in hand from the start, leading a pack of five including compatriots Letebrhan Gebreslasea and Meseret Tolwak and Kenyans Mercy Kibarus and Leah Kiprono out on 2:24 pace, well under the 2:26:40 course record set last year by Japan's Misato Horie (Team Noritz). Japanese women have long owned the Gold Coast, with seven wins in the last ten years including the last five straight. The last non-Japanese winner was another Ethiopian, Goitetom Haftu, back in 2011, while no Kenyan woman had ever won. Sticking true to her plan of only targeting her 2:28:09 best, Takenaka made no effort to go with the pack, running right on target pace at 3:30-3:31/km.

Bekele kept up the intensity as she ground down the others in the lead pack, slowing once she was on her own but sailing in 66 seconds ahead of Horie's mark in a new course record of 2:25:34. Takenaka picked up the casualties one by one, catching up to Kibarus for 2nd late in the race before losing ground again. With a few kilometers to go a spectator shouted "Your husband won!" to give Takenaka a boost.

Rallying and starting to close again, she bore down on the exhausted Kibarus in the home straight, but Kibarus had enough left to hang on to 2nd in 2:28:28. Takenaka finished 3rd just off her PB in 2:28:32, collapsing into Noguchi's arms before joining him on the podium at the award ceremony. "I was really worried before the race since my training hadn't been 100%, so I'm very relieved to have made it to 3rd," she told JRN post-race. "I thought I could get 2nd, but at least Takuya and I got to be on the podium together." Only married this spring and already Japan's fastest-ever marathon couple, after the race they will return to Japan briefly before heading to Hawaii for their honeymoon.

Men's 4th placer Hashimoto, who beat Kawauchi to win Hofu last December, took more than a minute off his best as he ran 2:10:19. His teammate and training partner Hiroki Yamagishi (Team GMO Athletes) won the Gold Coast's ASICS Half Marathon earlier the same morning, running alone after 10 km to take the win in 1:03:14. "This was part of my prep for the Hokkaido Marathon in August," he told JRN. "I can go back to Japan feeling good about how things are going." American Sara Hall won the women's race in 1:10:32 after flying in late from Ethiopia. 2015 Marugame Half Marathon winner Eloise Wellings (Australia) won the Southern Cross University 10 km in a road PB of 32:55, with Timothy Lefroy (Australia) taking a three-way sprint finish to win the men's race in 29:48.

39th Gold Coast Airport Marathon and ASICS Half Marathon
Gold Coast, Australia, 7/2/17
click here for complete results

Women's Marathon
1. Abebech Bekele (Ethiopia) - 2:25:34 - CR
2. Mercy Kibarus (Kenya) - 2:28:28
3. Risa Takenaka (Japan/Shiseido) - 2:28:32
4. Elizeba Cheronno (Netherlands) - 2:29:07 - debut
5. Virginia Moloney (Australia) - 2:29:14 - PB

Men's Marathon
1. Takuya Noguchi (Japan/Konica Minolta) - 2:08:59 - PB
2. Kenneth Mungara (Kenya) - 2:09:04 - WR
3. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:18
4. Ryo Hashimoto (Japan/GMO) - 2:10:19 - PB
5. Jonah Chesum (Kenya) - 2:10:47
6. Shoya Osaki (Japan/Chudenko) - 2:11:03 - PB
7. Chiharu Takada (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 2:11:25
8. Tewelde Estifanos Hidru (Eritrea) - 2:13:38

Women's Half Marathon
1. Sara Hall (U.S.A.) - 1:10:32
2. Milly Clark (Australia) - 1:11:15
3. Jessica Trengove (Australia) - 1:11:36
4. Desiree Linden (U.S.A.) - 1:12:17
5. Cassie Fien (Australia) - 1:13:20
-----
8. Mizuki Tanimoto (Japan/Tenmaya) - 1:15:51

Men's Half Marathon
1. Hiroki Yamagishi (Japan/GMO) - 1:03:14
2. Liam Adams (Australia) - 1:03:49
3. Dejen Gebreselassie (Ethiopia) - 1:04:12 - PB
4. Koji Gokaya (Japan/JR Higashi Nihon) - 1:04:29
5. Nick Earl (Great Britain) - 1:04:52 - PB

Women's 10 km
1. Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 32:55 - PB
2. Alexandra Paterson (Australia) - 33:10 - PB
3. Laura Nagel (New Zealand) - 34:25

Men's 10 km
1. Timothy Lefroy (Australia) - 29:48
2. Matthew Hudson (Australia) - 29:49
3. Louis McAfee (Australia) - 29:50 - PB

photos and video © 2017 Brett Larner

Comments

Roger said…
Enjoyed the write-up. You had details that I hadn't read of anywhere else!

Most-Read This Week

Takamatsu Makes Return to Racing After Nike Oregon Project Disappointment

Running again in her hometown on the second day of the Osaka Track and Field Championships at Yanmar Stadium Nagai, 2014 Youth Olympics girls' 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (19, Osaka T&F Assoc.) took the first step toward a comeback. Closing the gap to the runner ahead of her on the second lap, Takamatsu finished with effort to spare in 2:14.51 for 2nd. "I was able to run the way I'd envisioned," she said afterward. "I had some anxiety since it was pretty much my first real race in a year but I was able to give it my best."

After graduating from Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. in the spring last year Takamatsu moved to Oregon, U.S.A. to take part in the "Nike Oregon Project" elite long distance group created by Nike. With a dream of winning gold in the 5000 m or 10000 m at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and high hopes in her heart, she crossed the ocean.

But in the U.S. she was hit by the cold hand of reality. "I was DFL every ti…

Kim Sets Korean 5000 m National Record, Tsuetaki Clears Steeple Standard, Osako Comes Up Short - Abashiri Highs and Lows

The final meet in Japan's Hokuren Distance Challenge series, Thursday's Abashiri meet was set up to give people one last chance to clear the qualifying standards for next month's London World Championships ahead of the fast-approaching deadline. Temperatures were far above normal for northern Hokkaido through much of the day, the mid-afternoon peak reported at over 36C at the time of the men's 800 m A-heat and still at 25C at the start of the five standard-chasing races in the evening.

網走女子5000A https://t.co/GquthBd13K — ホクレン・ディスタンスチャレンジ2017 (@hokurendc2017) July 13, 2017
The best race of the day was the women's 5000 m A-heat. With two women already confirmed for London the third spot on the team was up for grabs. First in line under the JAAF's criteria for addition, top three at Nationals and under the 15:22.00 standard, was 16-year-old Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin H.S.), 3rd at Nationals in an U18 national record of 15:23.56. Next in line would be anyon…

Endo Breaks 3000 m Junior National Record in Kitami

Already the U18 national record holder for 3000 m, 18-year-old Hyuga Endo (Sumitomo Denko) stepped up with an U20 record in the men's 3000 m at the third meet in the Hokuren Distance Challenge series Sunday in Kitami, Hokkaido.

北見男子prj-A3000m陸連強化レース(ペースメーカーあり) https://t.co/8s96euEND3 — ホクレン・ディスタンスチャレンジ2017 (@hokurendc2017) July 9, 2017
The men's and women's 3000 m races on the program as a step toward Wednesday's fourth and final HDC meet in Abashiri where people will be shooting for last-minute London World Championships qualifying standards. With pacer Evans Keitany (Toyota Boshoku) targeting 7:55 the men's race came down to a sprint finish between Tetsuya Yoroizaka (Asahi Kasei), Takashi Ichida (Asahi Kasei) and Chiharu Nakagawa (Toenec) over the last lap. Yoroizaka dropped Ichida in the home straight to win in 7:52.70, the fastest-ever 3000 m time by a Japanese man on Japanese soil and one that made him all-time #10 in the Japanese record books. Closing fast, …