Fukuoka Marathon 2008, How Tsegaye Kebede Won, by K. Ken Nakamura, Note by Larry Eder


K. Ken Nakamura is the reason that many of us know about track & field and road running from Japan. His reports are super accurate and super detailled!

After covering 30-35Km in incredible 14:17, Tsegaye Kebede wins Fukuoka Marathon by over three minutes

Breaking away from his competitions after 30Km and covering the next 5Km in incredible 14:17, Tsegaye Kebede won the 62nd annual Fukuoka International Marathon in 2:06:10. It was not only the new course record, but also the Japanese all-comers record. Kebede broke the one year old course record of 2:06:39 set by the defending Olympic champion Samuel Wanjiru on his marathon debut. He also broke the Japanese all-comers record of 2:06:33, recorded by Gert Thys in the 1999 Tokyo marathon. Finally, it was also a personal best for Tsegaye Kebede, the Beijing Olympic marathon bronze medalist, breaking his previous best of 2:06:40 set earlier this year at the Paris Marathon. “I am very happy. The result is better than what I had expected,” said Tsegaye Kebede, who is now the 12th fastest marathon runner in history, relegating Felix Limo to the 13th fastest. Limo was disappointing fifth place with 2:10:59.
Satoshi Irifune finished distant second with 2:09:23 and selected for the marathon team for the upcoming World Championships in Berlin. “I am happy to be the first Japanese in the race, which was my goal. But my time is not a world class time. I like to improve it further,” said Irifune, who improved his previous personal best of 2:09:40 he recorded in the Tokyo marathon in February. The three minutes 13 seconds margin of victory by Kebede over Irifune was the largest margin of victory since 1948 edition (2nd annual edition of the marathon, which was known as Asahi Marathon and held in Takamatsu) of the race, when the winning margin was three minutes and 15 seconds. Arata Fujiwara finished third with 2:09:47, and proved that his 2:08:40 at the 2008 Tokyo marathon was not a fluke. He was followed by Tomoyuki Sato in fourth place. His time 2:09:59 matched his season best recorded in the Lake Biwa marathon in March, but fell short of improving his personal best of 2:09:40. Felix Limo finished fifth and Jose Manuel Martinez was sixth. Aburaya, the fastest Japanese in the field was disappointing 10th place.
The 14:17 split recorded by Tsegaye Kebede was the fastest ever recorded in the Fukuoka marathon. The previous fastest ever 30-35Km split in Fukuoka was 14:43 recorded by Haile Gebrselassie in 2006. The fastest ever 5Km split time in Fukuoka marathon was 14:30 (for 5 to 10Km) recorded by Takeyuki Nakayama in 1987. Not counting the opening 5Km in the Boston Marathon, which is steep downhill, it probably is the fastest 5Km split ever recorded in the marathon. Had an earlier pace being faster, Kebede certainly would have run faster, perhaps around mid 2:05.

How the race unfolded:

Before the race, four pace makers (Noritaka Fujiyama, Samson Ramadhani, Jonathan Maiyo, and John Kales) were asked to run each 5Km in 15:05. And they did a good job. A huge pack of more than 20 runners led by Noritaka Fujiyama passed 1Km in 3:02, 5Km in 15:07, and 10Km in 30:15. After Fujiyama dropped out of the race, Maiyo, Kales and Ramadhani pushed the pace. The lead pack passed 15Km in 45:25. Around 17Km Jose Manuel Martinez start to lose contact with the lead pack. The pack passed 20Km in 1:00:39 and half marathon in 1:04:02. Martinez who fell behind once rejoined the lead pack around 23Km. By 25Km (1:15:49), the lead pack was down to fourteen runners (John Kales, Shigeru Aburaya, Arata Fujiwara, Yuko Matsumiya, Satoshi Irifune, Tomoyuki Sato, Felix Limo, Tsegaye Kebede, David Makori, Daniel Mwangi, Jose manueal Martinez, Jon Brown and Seiji Kobayashi).
Real racing started soon after 25Km. Tsegaye Kebede started to push the pace thus stretched out the lead pack. Brown and Kobayashi were first to lose contact with the leaders. A Km later Aburaya was also gone. Makori, Mwangi and Martinez were next casualties of the fast pace, and after 2:54 Km split between 28 and 29Km, Fujiwara and Limo were also gone, leaving Kales (pace maker), Kebede, Irifune, Matsumiya and Sato in front.
After 30Km, the final pace maker (Kales) left the course, and at 30.3Km Kebede further increase the pace and thus completely broke away from his competitions, Irifune, Matsumiya and Sato. By 30Km Kebede was about 30 seconds ahead of Matsumiya, Irifune and Sato. Around 33Km, Matsumiya started to lose contact with Sato and Irifune. Kebede covered the next 5Km in incredible 14:17 and at 35Km Kebede could hardly see his competitions behind him anymore as he was one minute and eleven seconds ahead of Irifune and Sato, who in turn were eleven seconds ahead of Matsumiya. At 37.1Km Fujiwara passed Matsumiya to move up to 4th. Kebede continued to extend his lead over the rest of the field and passed 40Km checkpoint in 1:59:45. It was the first sub 2 hour 40Km split in the history of the Fukuoka marathon and the new course record for the second consecutive year suddenly became a real possibility. Covering the final 2.195Km in 6:25, the second fastest (after 6:23 by Atsushi Fujita on his national record run of 2000) split in the history of the race, Kebede broke the personal best, the course and the Japanese all-comers record. He covered the last half in 1:02:08, nearly two minutes negative split.
Suddenly, Tsegaye Kebede became one of the favorites for the gold medal at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. If Kebede run 30-35Km around 14:15 again, it is hard to imagine anybody can stay with him. But perhaps Haile Gebrselassie or Samuel Wanjiru can. If all three meet in one race, it will be a dream come true for the fans.
Samuel Wanjiru was planning to cheer David Makori along the course in Fukuoka (he trains part of the time in Fukuoka, other time in Kenya) on Sunday. Perhaps, after seeing Kebede’s incredible run, his competitive urge tells him that he must race Kebede again (and Gebrselassie) to prove once again that he is the best marathon runner in the world.

Weather at Noon: Cloudy Temperature 5.5C; humidity 51%; wind 3.5m/s South East
Weather at 1PM: Cloudy; temperature 6.4C; humidity 51%; wind 2.8m/s South East
1) Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) 2:06:10 (15:08, 30:15, 45:25, 1:00:39, 1:15:50, 1:30:41, 1:44:58, 1:59:45)
2) Satoshi Irifune 2:09:23 (15:09, 30:16, 45:26, 1:00:40, 1:15:50, 1:30:42, 1:46:09, 2:02:13)
3) Arata Fujiwara 2:09:47 (15:08, 30:16, 45:26, 1:00:40, 1:15:51, 1:30:52, 1:46:29, 2:02:44)
4) Tomoyuki Sato 2:09:59 (15:09, 30:16, 45:26, 1:00:40, 1:15:51, 1:30:43, 1:46:09, 2:02:33)
5) Felix Limo (KEN) 2:10:59 (15:08, 30:15, 45:25, 1:00:39, 1:15:50, 1:30:52, 1:46:46, 2:03:33)
6) Jose Manuel Martinez(ESP)2:11:11 (15:09,30:16,45:27,1:00:40,1:15:51, 1:31:00, 1:47:09, 2:03:54)
7) David Makori (KEN) 2:11:54 (15:08, 30:15, 45:25, 1:00:39, 1:15:51, 1:31:25, 1:47:30, 2:04:20)
8) Yuko Matsumiya 2:12:18 (15:08, 30:15, 45:26, 1:00:39, 1:15:50, 1:30:42, 1:46:20, 2:03:41)
9) Jon Brown (CAN) 2:12:27 (15:10, 30:17, 45:27, 1:00:40, 1:15:58, 1:31:47, 1:48:08, 2:04:55)
10) Shigeru Aburaya 2:13:48 (15:09, 30:16, 45:26, 1:00:40, 1:15:51, 1:31:25, 1:47:58, 2:05:57)
11) Mark Tucker (AUS) 2:13:49
12) Daniel Mwangi (KEN) 2:14:13
13) Martin Dent (AUS) 2:14:46
14) Makoto Ogura 2:15:33
15) Aleksey Sokolov (RUS) 2:16:20
16) Dan Robinson (GBR) 2:19:10
17) Nobuaki Takata 2:19:31
18) Kaito Iwayama 2:20:16
19) Shin Nozaki 2:20:18
20) Seiji Kobayashi 2:20:46
40) Hideyuki Obinata 2:25:08

62) Masatoshi Ibata 2:27:35
DNF Yuriy Hychun (UKR) 1:28:08 at 25Km
DNF (pace makers)
Noritaka Fujiyama 30:15 at 10Km
Jonathan Maiyo 1:04:02 at half
Samson Ramadhani 1:15:50 at 25Km, 1:34:14 at 30Km
John Kales 1:30:41 at 30Km

5Km 15:07 Noritaka Fujiyama
15:08 John Kales
15:08 Jonathan Maiyo
15:08 Samson Ramadahni
15:08 David Makori
15:08 Felix Limo
15:08 Yuko Matsumiya
15:08 Tsegaye Kebede
15:08 Arata Fujiwara
15:09 Satoshi Irifune
10Km 30:15 (15:08) Noritaka Fujiyama
30:15 Samson Ramadahni
30:15 Jonathan Maiyo
30:15 John Kales
30:15 (15:07) Tsegaye Kebede
30:15 Felix Limo
30:15 Yuko Matsumiya
30:15 David Makori
30:16 Satoshi Irifune
30:16 Daniel Mwangi
15Km 45:25 (15:10) Jonathan Maiyo
45:25 John Kales
45:25 Samson Ramadahni
45:25 Felix Limo
45:25 (15:10) Tsegaye Kebede
45:25 David Makori
45:26 Daniel Mwangi
45:26 Satoshi Irifune
45:26 Yuko Matsumiya
45:26 Shigeru Aburaya
20Km 1:00:39 (15:14) Samson Ramadahni
1:00:39 Jonathan Maiyo
1:00:39 John Kales
1:00:39 (15:14) Tsegaye Kebede
1:00:39 Felix Limo
1:00:39 David Makori
1:00:39 Yuko Matsumiya
1:00:40 Satoshi Irifune
1:00:40 Daniel Mwangi
1:00:40 Shigeru Aburaya
Half 1:04:02 Jonathan Maiyo
1:04:02 John Kales
1:04:02 Samson Ramadahni
1:04:02 Tsegaye Kebede
1:04:02 Felix Limo
1:04:03 Yuko Matsumiya
1:04:03 Daniel Mwangi
1:04:03 Satoshi Irifune
1:04:03 David Makori
1:04:03 Shigeru Aburaya
25Km 1:15:49 (15:10) John Kales
1:15:50 (15:11) Tsegaye Kebede
1:15:50 Felix Limo
1:15:50 Samson Ramadahni
1:15:50 Yuko Matsumiya
1:15:50 Satoshi Irifune
1:15:50 Daniel Mwangi
1:15:51 Shigeru Aburaya
1:15:51 David Makori
1:15:51 Jose Manuel Martinez
30Km 1:30:41 (14:52) John Kales
1:30:41 (14:51) Tsegaye Kebede
1:30:42 Yuko Matsumiya
1:30:42 Satoshi Irifune
1:30:43 Tomoyuki Sato
1:30:52 Arata Fujiwara
1:30:52 Felix Limo
1:31:00 Jose Manuel Martinez
1:31:25 David Makori
1:31:25 Shigeru Aburaya
35Km 1:44:58 (14:17) Tsegaye Kebede
1:46:09 (15:26) Tomoyuki Sato
1:46:09 Satoshi Irifune
1:46:20 Yuko Matsumiya
1:46:29 Arata Fujiwara
1:46:46 Felix Limo
1:47:09 Jose Manuel Martinez
1:47:30 David Makori
1:47:58 Shigeru Aburaya
1:48:04 Jon Brown
40Km 1:59:45 (14:47) Tsegaye Kebede
2:02:13 (16:04) Satoshi Irifune
2:02:33 Tomoyuki Sato
2:02:44 Arata Fujiwara
2:03:33 Felix Limo
2:03:41 Yuko Matsumiya
2:03:54 Jose Manuel Martinez
2:04:20 David Makori
2:04:55 Jon Brown
2:05:57 Shigeru Aburaya
Finish 2:06:10 (6:25) Tsegaye Kebede

Special thanks to K. Ken Nakamura.

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