Crowd favourite Yuta Shitara was the undoubted the star of Sunday's (25 February) Tokyo Marathon. He may have finished 41 seconds behind Dickson Chumba of Kenya, the clear winner in 2:05:30 but Shitara still managed to claim the Japanese marathon record set in 2002 and bonus prizes thought to be in excess of $1,000,000. The bonuses came via Project Exceed, a Japanese initiative aimed at creating new marathon national records ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
There was early disappointment for spectators when defending champion and pre-race favourite, Wilson Kipsang dropped out complaining of stomach problems. This left Dickson Chumba with a great chance to repeat his 2015 Tokyo success and he ran prominently throughout.
The midway point was reached in 1:02:44 and 30 kilometres in 1:29:20. With the pacesetters’ duties completed, Chumba began to force the pace. The Kenyan, along with compatriots Amos Kipruto and Gideon Kipketer, covered the next five kilometres in 14:51. But when Chumba further increased the tempo he was left alone in front. Despite this lead he kept up the pressure and covered the 35-40 kilometre segment in 14:44 before reaching the finish for a convincing win.
Meanwhile Shitara had moved into second and finished in 2:06:11, a new Japanese record. Amos Kipruto was third in 2:06:33.
In the women’s race, Ethiopia’s Berhane Dibaba reached halfway in a group of four which included her compatriots Ruti Aga and Shure Demise, and Amy Cragg of the United States. Demise dropped back, leaving a trio in contention 10 kilometres later with Cragg the next to falter as Dibaba’s 16:26 split between kilometres 30 and 35 took its toll. The next five kilometres were even faster at 16:22 and Dibaba went clear of Aga.
Dibaba joined the sub-2:20 club with her 2:19:51 while Aga held on for second in 2:21:19 with Cragg crossing the line third in 2:21:42, slicing more than five minutes from her previous personal best.
A large party of UK runners travelled to Tokyo with runABC's travel partner Sports Tours International - check out their website for details of 2019 Tokyo Marathon packages.