Sunday 13 February 2005

Breaking away from the lead pack just before 24Km and running alone
for the next 18Km, Toshinari Takaoka won today's 2005 Tokyo
International Marathon, Tokyo, Japan, in 2:07:41.  It was his first
marathon victory in five starts.

Although it was not the national record he had hoped for, it was third
successive 2:07 marathon for Takaoka, having run 2:07:59 in the 2003
Fukuoka Marathon and 2:07:50 in the 2004 Chicago Marathon.

Having satisfied the requirement set by the Japan AAF (first Japanese
runner in the race with sub-2:09:30 clocking), Takaoka's win secured a
marathon squad slot for the upcoming World Championships in Helsinki.

Finishing second in today's race more than three minutes behind was
Zebedayo Bayo of Tanzania, the defending Tokyo-New York Friendship
Tokyo International marathon.

The race unfoldsâ

Two sets of pacemakers were brought into the race, because Takaoka
felt that 15:05 for each 5Km, the pre-determined pace for the pace
setters, was too slow.  Because Takaoka requested a faster pace, two
pace men - Abner Chibu of South Africa and Teodoro Vega of Mexico -
were recruited to run the first 5Km in 14:40 followed by 3 minutes for
each kilometre until 30Km, while the third pacemaker was going to run
15:05 for each 5Km.

The race started with six runners (Toshinari Takaoka, Akinori
Shibutani, Tomohisa Hagino, Nobuyuki Sato and two pace setters) in the
front pack, while a third pace maker pulled along Zebedayo Bayo,
Tadayuki Tsutsumi, Takashi Horiguchi and Seiji Kushibe.

Falling behind required pace

The lead pack passed the 5Km and 10Km checkpoints in 14:36 and 29:32
respectively, close to the pace Takaoka had asked for but the speed
slackened after 10Km.  The 11th kilometre was covered in 3:08,
followed by 3:03 for the next Km.

As promised before the race, Takaoka stayed behind the paceamkers,
despite the slackening pace, and waited for the right moment to break
the race open.  At around 14Km Takaoka asked for the race pace to
increase and it did pick up temporary from 3:05 for 13th and 14th Km
to 2:58 for the 15th Km.  However, it soon was back to 3:04 for the
16th Km.  "I asked the pace setter to keep up the pace, but because of
the head wind, it did not work out," said Takaoka.

The second pack passed 5Km in 15:00, while the third pack, which
included Eric Wainaina, passed 5Km in 15:20, which was extremely slow
considering that the first 5Km of the course loses about 30m in
elevation.  While the second pack of five runners passed 15Km in
45:20, the third group led by Wainaina was 55 seconds behind them. 
The third pack included many other invited runners from abroad â Andre
Ramos, Vladimir Tsiamchyk, Sergey Lukin and Henry Tarus.

24km â decisive surge

First to lose contact with the lead pack was Hagino at 15Km.  Six Km
later Sato, the 1999 World bronze medallist, also fell behind.  Then
as the pace slacked in the 24th Km (from 3 minutes for the 23rd Km to
3minutes and 9 seconds for the 24th Km), Takaoka took the opportunity
to surge away from Shibutani and one of the pace setters.  "It may
have been little too early, but it was (a move) to win the race," said

Meanwhile Horiguchi, who was always running with the second pack pace
maker was picking off the faltering runners from the lead pack, and
eventually, at 26Km, he passed Shibutani to move into the second

By 29Km, Takaoka was a minute ahead of the second place Horiguchi. 
Horiguchi in turn was followed by Sato and then Bayo, who was gaining
on them fast.  At 30.3Km Bayo passed Sato.  2.4 Kilometres later, Bayo
also passed Horiguchi to move up to second place.  Both Horiguchi and
Sato steady lost ground in the last 10Km and eventually finished
seventh and eighth respectively.

Then came the hillâ

With each stride, Takaoka pulled further and further ahead.  Then the
hill began.

"The hill was tough, so I consciously used the (increased) arm motion
as I was told to."  Takaoka covered the 5Km from 35Km to 40Km, the
section that includes over 30m elevation gain in a span of 3Km, in
15:19.  Although it is slower than the 15:09 Gert Thys recorded in his
record run of 2:06:33, it should be noted that only handful of runners
have ever broken 16 minutes for this 5Km section.

Takaoka covered the last kilometre in 2:59 and won with 2:07:41.

"I was hoping for the faster time, but I am still happy with the time.
It was a hard race, but I am happy, for I did not slow down near the
end," confirmed the winner.  After breaking away from the pace maker,
he had been was able to keep up the average of 3 minutes for each Km
until the steep part of the hill.

Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Assisted by Akihiro Onishi 

Weather:  Cloudy, temperature 5C, humidity 40%, wind 0.9m/s

Results:  JPN unless otherwise noted 
1. Toshinari Takaoka  2:07:41
2. Zebedayo Bayo (TAN)   2:10:51
3. Vladimir Tsiamchyk (BLR)  2:14:24
4. Tadayuki Tsutsumi  2:14:37
5. Andre Ramos (BRA)  2:15:37
6. Sergey Lukin (RUS)  2:15:53
7. Takashi Horiguchi  2:16:06
8. Nobuyuki Sato  2:16:18 

Splits for the leaders: 
5Km 14:36
10Km 29:32   (14:56)
15Km 44:54    (15:22) 
20Km 1:00:20 (15:26)
Half 1:03:42
25Km 1:15:41 (15:21)
30Km 1:30:42 (15:01)
35Km 1:45:43 (15:01)
40Km 2:01:02 (15:19)

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