Twenty-year old James Mwangi, a Kenyan who attended Aomori Yamada high school
in Japan and now runs for Japanese corporate team, NTN, won the men’s
race, while women’s marathon runner Hiromi Ominami topped the
women’s division in today’s Sapporo Half Marathon.
Olympic bound runners – women’s World Marathon champion
Catherine Ndereba (KEN) and double men’s Olympic Marathon medallist Eric
Wainaina (KEN), and Shigeru Aburaya (JPN) did not fare well.
Jackson Gachiuri, another Kenyan who lives in Japan and runs for a Japanese
corporate team, did most of the initial pace work. The first big casualty was
two-time Olympic medallist Eric Wainaina, who fell behind one kilometre after
the huge leading pack passed 5Km in 14:29. In fact twenty-eight runners were
still together at 10Km (29:13)!
At 14Km, another Olympic bound runner Shigeru Aburaya (Japan) fell behind
the lead pack.
13 runners were still up-front as the race passed 15Km (43:46), and then the
lead pack really started to break up and by 15.5Km, only four Africans –
James Mwangi, G Assefa, T Girma and Julius Maina – were left in
Then at the start of the uphill leading to the stadium, at 19.3Km, Mwangi,
who was waiting for his moment surged away. Nobody could keep up with Mwangi
who won by 6 seconds in 1:01:28. The time was 17 seconds short of the course
record. Mwangi said, “It was good condition to run,” also thanked
his coach after the race.
Wainaina finished a disappointing 35th in 1:04:09.
Women’s race - Ndereba in trouble
In the women’s race, Asian Games’ marathon bronze medalist
Hiromi Ominami led all the way to win easily in 1:08:45.