Yoko Shibui Finally Wins a Big One, by K. Ken Nakamura


With Yoko Shibui's victory at the Osaka Ladies Marathon, Shibui finally wins a major race. Here, K Ken. Nakamura, a great friend of the sport, and the reason why the world knows so much about Japanese athletics, writes about how the Osaka marathon developed....

Breaking away from the lead pack at 28.5Km and covering the 30 to 35Km in 16:11, Yoko Shibui convincingly won the 2009 Osaka Ladies Marathon with 2:23:42. "I was not consciously picking up the pace, but I just run faster and faster," said Shibui after the race. "I was never able to pick up the pace at the end of the race. I think I have figured out how to win the marathon," Shibui continued. Despite a slow early pace (none of the 5Km lap time was under 17 minutes until 30 to 35Km) the winning time was quite respectable. It was twelfth fastest time on the course. It was also the fourth fastest in Shibui's eleven marathon career. For Shibui, who said "I will continue to run the marathon until I win one" after the fourth place finish in the 2008 Tokyo Women's marathon, it was her third marathon victory of her marathon career, having won her debut at 2001 Osaka Ladies Marathon with the world marathon debut record (at the time) and then the 2004 Berlin Marathon with the national record. Thus her quest for a marathon victory is fulfilled after the draught that lasted more than four years. As a winner of the World Championships qualifying race, Shibui clinched a spot on the marathon team for the World Championships in Berlin; she will be running her second World Championships marathon, having finished fourth in Edmonton eight years ago. Shibui was visibly happy after the race, perhaps happiest she had been seen by the fans in her running career. "I want to be a faster runner. My goal is to run a 2:15 marathon," laughed Shibui at the end of the post race interview.
Yukiko Akaba, a marathon debutante finished second with 2:25:40. It was seventh fastest debut marathon in Japan, five seconds slower than Mizuki Noguchi's debut marathon. For her marathon training Akaba twice run over 40Km, first time in September. "The marathon felt shorter than what I have expected, so I was able to enjoy the race. But I was bit disappointed because I could not win it," said Akaba after the race. "The pace was slow today. Next time I hope to see what I can do when the pace was very fast. I hope to run the marathon in the London Olympics. So for an experience, I would like to run at the World Championships, but if I fail to make the team in the marathon, I will try to make the team at 10000m," said Akaba. She was followed by Yumiko Hara in 2:26:57 and Miki Ohira, Shibui's team mate in Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijyo (insurance company) with 2:27:08. She finished fourth in all her three marathons, once in Nagoya and twice in Osaka. Lidia Simon, 2001 World Champion, was fifth in 2:27:14. She just edged Mika Okunaga, who improved her marathon best from 2:27:52 to 2:27:16 in sixth place. Ruth Wanjiru, a Kenyan, who lives in Japan and runs for Second Wind AC was seventh in 2:27:38. Madoka Ogi, was eighth in 2:27:56, thus eclipsing the best time for the eighth place in Osaka, which was 2:28:06, recorded last year. Another debutante, Akane Wakita, a protégé of Yoshio Koide, was ninth in 2:31:16. Apparently she was running with slight injury to right ankle, which she injured a week ago. Incidentally, her time is similar but slightly faster than Naoko Takahashi's marathon debut time, which was 2:31:32, recorded in the 1997 Osaka Ladies marathon.
With Yoko Shibui and Yoshimi Ozaki, who won the Tokyo Women's Marathon in November, clinched the spots on the marathon team for the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, three spots are left on the team. Since the winner of Nagoya Women's Marathon guaranteed a spot on the team, effectively two slots are left on the team. At the present time, Yukiko Akaba, who was second in Osaka with 2:25:40 and Yuri Kano, who was second in Tokyo with 2:24:27 are in contention. Unlike previous years, runners who record fast time in the marathons abroad, like Paris, Rotterdam, Boston and London in April will be considered for the team.

How the race unfolded

The organizer decided to do away with the pace setter this year, and thus the race started with a mediocre pace. The first Km was passed in 3:25. The second Km was even slower 3:35. With Lidia Simon leading most of the time, the first 5Km was covered in 17:25, at which point 17 runners were in the lead pack. The pace picked up in the second 5Km to 17:07, which dropped two runners from the lead pack. Kaori Yoshida, who was second in the December's Honolulu Marathon, was one of the casualty. At 11.5Km Aki Fujikawa fell to the pavement and thus fell behind the lead pack. She eventually finished 16th with 2:41:02.
The next major casualty, at 14Km, was Akemi Ozaki, a sister of Yoshimi Ozaki, who clinched a spot on the marathon team for the World Championships by winning the 2008 Tokyo Women's Marathon. Around here, Yukiko Akaba started to push the pace. By 15Km the lead pack was down to 13 runners. With Simon in front, the half marathon was passed in 1:13:00. Around 24Km Dulce Maria Rodriguez of Mexico fell behind. With a dozen runners left in the lead pack, Akaba picked the pace up and two marathon debutantes, Peninah Arusei and Akane Wakita also fell behind. Arusei eventually dropped out.
Akaba was planning to break the race open after 31Km, but before that real racing started when Yoko Shibui, who was biding her time until now, went into front and really started to push the pace at 28.5Km. Hiromi Ominami and Worknesh Tola were gone from the lead pack. The lead pack, which now consists of eight runners stretched out. Shibui covered 29 to 30Km in 3:21. After passing the 30Km water station, only Akaba was able to stay close to Shibui. However, after 3:13 for Km between 30 and 31Km Akaba too was left behind and Shibui was running alone. Shibui continued to push the pace and covered the next two Km in 3:16 and 3:09, and Shibui was nine seconds ahead of Akaba. Shibui covered 30 to 35Km in 16:11, faster than 16:21 Mizuki Noguchi recorded for the same 5Km segment when she won the Osaka Ladies Marathon with the course record time of 2:21:18.
At 35Km, Shibui was 25 seconds ahead of Akaba who in turn was 52 seconds ahead of Miki Ohira, Yumiko Hara and Madoka Ogi. At 40Km the gap between Shibui and Akaba stretched to a minute and 25 seconds, while the gap between Akaba and Ohira increased to a minute and 20 seconds. Shibui covered the final 2.195Km in 7:02, and won by nearly two minutes.

Weather: Sunny; temperature 6.5C; humidity 73%; wind 1.6m/s South West
1) Yoko Shibui 2:23:42 (17:25, 34:32, 51:50, 1:09:11, 1:26:40, 1:43:56, 2:00:07, 2:16:40)
2) Yukiko Akaba 2:25:40 (17:25, 34:32, 51:49, 1:09:10, 1:26:39, 1:43:56, 2:00:32, 2:18:05)
3) Yumiko Hara 2:26:57 (17:26, 34:33, 51:51, 1:09:11, 1:26:42, 1:43:56, 2:01:24, 2:19:26)
4) Miki Ohira 2:27:08
5) Lidia Simon (ROU) 2:27:14
6) Mika Okunaga 2:27:16
7) Ruth Wanjiru (KEN) 2:27:38
8) Madoka Ogi 2:27:56
9) Akane Wakita 2:31:16
10) Akemi Ozaki 2:32:09
11) Hiromi Ominami 2:32:30
12) Worknesh Tola (ETH) 2:33:51
13) Satoko Uetani 2:34:39
14) Mai Tagami 2:34:42

24) Gulnara Vygovskaya (RUS) 2:47:58

44) Dulce Maria Rodriguez (MEX) 2:56:18

DNF Peninah Arusei (1:26:45 at 25Km)

5Km 17:25 Lidia Simon
17:25 Aki Fujikawa
17:25 Yukiko Akaba
17:25 Akane Wakita
17:25 Yoko Shibui
17:25 Miki Ohira
17:25 Dulce Rodriguez
17:25 Akemi Ozaki
17:25 Worknesh Tola
17:25 Peninah Arusei
17:26 Mika Okunaga
17:26 Ruth Wanjiru
17:26 Madoka Ogi
17:26 Hiromi Ominami
17:26 Yumiko Hara
17:26 Hiroko Yoshitomi
17:27 Kaori Yoshida
10Km 34:32 (17:07) Lidia Simon
34:32 Akane Wakita
34:32 Yukiko Akaba
34:32 Dulce Rodriguez
34:32 Yoko Shibui
34:32 Peninah Arusei
34:33 Aki Fujikwa
34:33 Miki Ohira
34:33 Mika Okunaga
34:33 Worknesh Tola
34:33 Akemi Ozaki
34:33 Madoka Ogi
34:33 Hiromi Ominami
34:33 Yumiko Hara
34:34 Ruth Wanjiru
34:40 Hiroko Yoshitomi
15Km 51:49 (17:17) Yukiko Akaba
51:50 Lidia Simon
51:50 Yoko Shibui
51:50 Akane Wakita
51:50 Peninah Arusei
51:50 Dulce Rodriguez
51:50 Madoka Ogi
51:50 Worknesh Tola
51:50 Miki Ohira
51:51 Hiromi Ominami
51:51 Yumiko Hara
51:51 Mika Okunaga
51:51 Ruth Wanjiru
52:03 Akemi Ozaki
52:26 Aki Fujikawa
20Km 1:09:10 (17:21) Lidia Simon
1:09:10 Yukiko Akaba
1:09:11 Akane Wakita
1:09:11 Peninah Arusei
1:09:11 Yoko Shibui
1:09:11 Dulce Rodriguez
1:09:11 Madoka Ogi
1:09:11 Worknesh Tola
1:09:11 Miki Ohira
1:09:11 Yumiko Hara
1:09:11 Hiromi Ominami
1:09:11 Mika Okunaga
1:09:11 Ruth Wanjiru
1:09:46 Akemi Ozaki
1:10:56 Aki Fujikawa
25Km 1:26:39 (17:29) Yukiko Akaba
1:26:40 Lidia Simon
1:26:40 Yoko Shibui
1:26:41 Worknesh Tola
1:26:41 Madoka Ogi
1:26:41 Miki Ohira
1:26:41 Ruth Wanjiru
1:26:41 Akane Wakita
1:26:42 Hiromi Ominami
1:26:42 Yumiko Hara
1:26:43 Mika Okunaga
1:26:45 Peninah Arusei
1:26:50 Dulce Rodriguez
1:27:49 Akemi Ozaki
30Km 1:43:56 (17:17) Yoko Shibui
1:43:56 Yukiko Akaba
1:43:56 Yumiko Hara
1:43:57 Miki Ohira
1:43:57 Madoka Ogi
1:43:58 Ruth Wanjiru
1:43:59 Lidia Simon
1:44:00 Mika Okunaga
1:44:11 Worknesh Tola
1:44:15 Hiromi Ominami
1:44:37 Akane Wakita
1:45:06 Dulce Rodriguez
1:46:11 Akemi Ozaki
35Km 2:00:07 (16:11) Yoko Shibui
2:00:32 (16:36) Yukiko Akaba
2:01:24 Miki Ohira
2:01:24 Yumiko Hara
2:01:24 Madoka Ogi
2:01:32 Lidia Simon
2:01:32 Mika Okunaga
2:01:32 Ruth Wanjiru
2:03:14 Hiromi Ominami
2:03:14 Worknesh Tola
2:03:50 Akane Wakita
2:05:02 Akemi Ozaki
2:05:57 Dulce Rodriguez
40Km 2:16:40 (16:33) Yoko shibui
2:18:05 (17:33) Yukiko Akaba
2:19:25 Miki Ohira
2:19:26 Yumiko Hara
2:19:35 Lidia Simon
2:19:36 Mika Okunaga
2:19:48 Ruth Wanjiru
2:19:48 Madoka Ogi
2:23:15 Akane Wakita
2:23:48 Hiromi Ominami
2:24:04 Worknesh Tola
2:24:10 Akemi Ozaki
Finish 2:23:42 (7:02) Yoko Shibui
2:25:40 (7:35) Yukiko Akaba

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