Adil Annani wins Beppu-Oita, by K. Ken Nakamura

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Adil Annani set a personal best in this win in challenging weather conditions....

Adil Annani wins Beppu-Oita Marathon

Surging away from Seiji Kobayashi, his final challenger with 5Km to go in the race, Adil Annani won the 58th Beppu-Oita Marathon in 2:10:15. "It was very windy, especially from 13 to 26Km, so I just tried to stay with Kenyans till 35Km. It was my first race in Japan, so I am happy to win. It was my personal best," said Annani after the race. His previous best was 2:11:05, recorded in the 2008 Marrakech marathon. Although he failed to break 2:10 as he had hoped before the race, his victory should be sufficient for making the Moroccan marathon team for the World Championships in Berlin. Seiji Kobayashi was second in 2:10:38, a personal best. "I have not cracked 2:10 yet, so I would like to run faster," said Kobayashi. His previous best was 2:11:02, recorded in the 2008 Tokyo Marathon. Although the race was one of the qualifying races for the World Championships in Berlin, unlike Fukuoka marathon last December and upcoming Lake Biwa Marathon and Tokyo Marathon in March, the winner (or first Japanese) is not guaranteed to be selected for the marathon team for Berlin. Since Kobayashi's time is slower than that of Arata Fujiwara (2:09:47) and Tomoyuki Sato (2:09:59) recorded in Fukuoka Marathon, Kobayashi has a little chance of making the team for Berlin. A marathon debutant Keita Akiba, who attracted lots of attention before the race did not disappoint anyone. He finished respectable third with 2:10:53. "I was feeling good until 30Km, but felt terrible after I fell behind the leaders. Although I could not crack 2:10, but since it was windy, I guess it was a good time," said Akiba after the race. Although Akiba's debut marathon is not as fast as a debut marathon (2:08:53) by Koichi Morishita, Olympic silver medalist who made his marathon debut in 1991 Beppu-Oita marathon, he is faster than the debut marathon (2:13:16) by Hiromi Taniguchi, World champion who made his marathon debut in 1985 Beppu-Oita marathon. Peter Kiprotich, who stayed with the leaders until 36Km and was fourth at 40Km, struggled home in eighth place. Scott Westcott, who finished second in 2005 and third in 2008, was fourth. He was followed by Masashi Hayashi and the defending champion Tomoya Adachi. Adachi was suppose to be in great shape, however, as Shigeru Soh, who was commentating for the TV pointed out, while Adachi was hoping to win last year, he was shooting for the victory this year, and as a result, he was not running relaxed.

Further quotes from Annani, Akiba and Adachi

"I was caught at 36Km, but I was thinking of running strong final 5Km. I think Japanese runners were unable to stay with me because they used all the energy trying to catch me. I was playing soccer until 1993 and started running with a local club in 1995. I was running mostly cross country and road, not track. My road 10Km personal best is 28:07," said Annani in the winner's interview. Akiba, a debutant said, "I was hoping to be the first Japanese, so I am disappointed that I could not accomplish my goal. I also hoped to crack 2:10, but on the other hand 2:10 debut marathon is not too bad. The lead pack broke up earlier than expected. I thought it will stay as a pack beyond 30Km. My whole body felt numb after 41Km. I only did two 40Km run, perhaps I need to run more long run to run stronger last half." The defending champion Adachi said, "The pace was slow, but I was not running comfortably. I was thinking too much about making the World Championships team. Perhaps I was under too much pressure."

How the race unfolded:

The first Km was passed in 3:03. Twenty-three runners including three pace makers passed 5Km checkpoint in 15:19. A debutant Keita Akiba, who said,"I hope to crack 2:09," is running at the tail end of the lead pack. Approaching 10Km (30:23) John Kemboi was the first to lose contact with the leader followed by Yusuke Kataoka. As the course came closer to the bay of Beppu, the strong wind turned against the runners and thus the pace slowed down. Twenty-one runners passed 15Km checkpoint in 45:56 and 20Km in 1:01:38. At that point Kenta Oshima, one of the pace maker left the race. Although the pace was not fast, it was turning into the race of attrition. Koichi Mitsuyuki, Hiroki Takana and Toru Okada fell off the lead pack in succession. Soon after turn-around point at 25.5Km, with the wind now behind the runners, the pace picked up and the lead pack split into three groups. With one of the pace maker Chelimo gone, the first group consists of Peter Kiprotich, Adil Annani and Ryosuke Fukuyama, a debutant, and a pace maker Mbote. They were followed by Akiba and Seiji Kobayashi. The defending champion Adachi was in the third group. Soon, he falls off the third group also. At 27Km, Takashi Ohta, one of the pre-race favorite started to walk. After passing 30Km in 1:32:18, Fukuyama started to fall off the leaders, which now consists of Kiprotich, Annani and pace maker Mbote. A marathon debutant Fukuyama finished 19th in 2:18:32. At 32Km Mbote, the last pace maker, left the race, and the race turned to a duel between Kiprotich and Annani, while Akiba and Kobayashi were chasing the leaders about 16 seconds behind. By 35Km (1:45:45), Akiba and Kobayashi cut the gap to eight seconds. Then at 35.8Km Kobayashi caught the leader. Two -hundred meters later Akiba also joined the leaders, and thus the lead pack turned into a group of four. Then Annani, who later said, "I was feeling good," picked up the pace and only Kobayashi was able to cover the move. Kiprotich fell off slightly (7-8 m), while Akiba was struggling to stay close. By 37.2Km Annani, who was pulling away from Kobayashi, was running alone. A few hundred meters later Akiba passed Kiprotich to move up to third. Although the gap between Annani and Kobaashi did not grow very much until the very end of the race, Annani was never in danger of losing his lead and won by 23 seconds.

Weather: Cloudy; temperaturee 10.1C, humidity 50% wind North North West 3.4m/s

Results

1) Adil Annani (MAR) 2:10:15PR (15:20, 30:24, 45:58, 1:01:41(1:05:06)1:17:25, 1:32:18, 1:47:44, 2:03:17)

2) Seiji Kobayashi 2:10:38 PR (15:21, 30:24, 45:58, 1:01:42 (1:05:07) 1:17:25, 1:32:26, 1:47:52, 2:03:28)

3) Keita Akiba 2:10:53 debut(15:23, 30:26,45:59, 1:01:42 (1:05:08) 1:17:25, 1:32:26, 1:47:52, 2:03:38)

4) Scott Westcott 2:12:56 (15:21, 30:26, 45:58, 1:01:42 (1:05:07) 1:17:25, 1:32:56, 1:48:51, 2:05:33)

5) Masashi Hayashi 2:13:11 (15:22, 30:25, 45:59, 1:01:41, (1:05:07) 1:17:26, 1:32:55, 1:48:56, 2:05:36)

6) Tomoya Adachi 2:13:17 (15:21, 30:24, 45:58, 1:01:42 (1:05:06) 1:17:26, 1:32:57, 1:49:25, 2:06:04)

7) Michitane Noda 2:13:30 (15:21, 30:25, 45:58, 1:01:42 (1:05:08) 1:17:26, 1:32:56, 1:49:18, 2:06:11)

8) Peter Kiprotich (KEN) 2:13:44 (15:21, 30:23, 45:57, 1:01:41 (1:05:06) 1:17:25, 1:32:18, 1:47:44, 2:04:40)

9) Tomonori Onitsuka 2:14:50

10) Yukinobu Nakazaki 2:15:03

11) Takehisa Okino 2:15:08

12) Joseph Keino (KEN) 2:15:53

13) Masataka Uchino 2:16:09

14) Toru Okada 2:16:21

15) Yusuke Kataoka 2:16:36

16) Kazushi Hara 2:17:01

17) Hiroki Tanaka 2:17:59

18) Dale Warrander (NZL) 2:18:26

19) Ryosuke Fukuyama 2:18:32

20) Yuki Kawauchi 2:19:26

21) Takashi Horiguchi 2:20:04

22) Shinji Tateishi 2:20:58

23) Yoshihiro Yamamoto 2:21:32

24) Takehiro Okumura 2:22:06

25) Takayuki Nishida 2:23:09

89) Yoshihisa Hosaka (60 years old) 2:36:30

Splits

Distance Time Athletes

5Km 15:19 Kenta Oshima

10Km 30:23 (15:04) Jason Mbote

15Km 45:56 (15:33) Jason Mbote

20Km 1:01:38 (15:42) Jason Mbote

Half 1:05:03

25Km 1:17:24 (15:46) Jason Mbote

30Km 1:32:17 (14:53) Jason Mbote

1:32:18 Peter Kiprotich

1:32:18 Adil Annani

1:32:18 Ryosuke Fukuyama

1:32:26 Seiji Kobayashi

1:32:26 Keita Akiba

1:32:40 Takehisa Okino

1:32:55 Masashi Hayashi

1:32:56 Michitane Noda

1:32:56 Scott Westcott

35Km 1:47:44 (15:27) Adil Annani

1:47:44 Peter Kiprotich

1:47:52 Keita Akiba

1:47:52 Seiji Kobayashi

1:48:33 Ryosuke Fukuyama

1:48:51 Scott Westcott

1:48:56 Masashi Hayashi

1:49:18 Michitane Noda

1:49:19 Takehisa Okino

1:49:24 Tomonori Onitsuka

40Km 2:03:17 (15:33) Adil Annami

2:03:28 Seiji Kobayashi

2:03:38 Keita Akiba

2:04:40 Peter Kiprotich

2:05:33 Scott Westcott

2:05:36 Masashi Hayashi

2:06:04 Tomoya Adachi

2:06:11 Michitane Noda

2:07:03 Tomonori Onitsuka

2:07:04 Takehisa Okino

Finish 2:10:15 (6:58) Adil Annani

Special thanks to K. Ken Nakamura.

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