Michael Githae seals victory over Abel Kirui in Fukuoka International Marathon


ATHLETICS Michael Githae seals victory over Abel Kirui in Fukuoka International Marathon

Festus Chuma 13:00 - 03.12.2023

Kenya's Michael Githae wins Fukuoka Marathon surpassing favorite Abel Kirui.

Kenyan Michael Githae emerged victorious at the prestigious Fukuoka International Marathon for the second time in three years.

The 29-year-old athlete, who spent his high school years in Fukuoka, delivered a stunning performance on Sunday, clocking a remarkable time of 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 8 seconds.

The race unfolded with intense competition, and as the kilometers ticked away, the leading pack dwindled to just three exceptional runners: Githae, China's Yang Shaohui, and Norway's Sondre Nordstad Moen.

Japanese contender Kyohei Hosoya, initially part of the leading group, fell behind around the 40-kilometer mark, leaving the trio to vie for the coveted title.

In a nail-biting climax, Githae made his move, breaking away from the tightly contested pack just a kilometer from the finish line at Heiwadai Athletic Stadium.

China's Yang Shaohui, who gave relentless chase, clinched the runner-up position, finishing just one second behind Githae, with a commendable time of 2:07:09.

Meanwhile, Norway's Sondre Nordstad Moen secured the third spot on the podium, clocking in at 2:07:16.

Vincent Raimoi, another Kenyan athlete, delivered a strong performance, finishing fifth with a time of 2:08:00, while the race favorite, Abel Kirui, faced disappointment as he crossed the line in eighth place, recording a time of 2:08:36.

Kirui had expressed his eagerness to improve upon his personal best time of 2:05:04, achieved during the 2009 Rotterdam Marathon.

Among the Japanese competitors, Kyohei Hosoya emerged as the top finisher, claiming the fourth position with a respectable time of 2:07:23.

His performance marked the first of the three Final Challenge races aimed at selecting the last Japanese men's marathon qualifier for the upcoming Paris Olympics.

For Githae, who runs for the Suzuki track team, this victory was a momentous milestone in his career, as he had previously secured the Fukuoka International Marathon title in 2021 with a time of 2:07:51.

The Fukuoka International Marathon, recognized with a World Athletics Heritage Plaque in 2019, has a storied 75-year history.

It holds the distinction of being the second oldest marathon in Japan, following the now-defunct Lake Biwa Marathon. Throughout its rich history, the Fukuoka Marathon has witnessed remarkable achievements and world records.

In 1967, Derek Clayton became the first runner to break the 2:10 barrier, finishing with a time of 2:09:37.

Then, in 1981, Australian athlete Rob de Castella set a new record with a time of 2:08:18.

Legendary marathon champions like Frank Shorter, Gezahegn Abera, Josiah Thugwane, and Samuel Wanjiru have all left their mark on this prestigious event, showcasing their remarkable skills and determination.

Notable world record-holders, including Haile Gebrselassie, Belayneh Dinsamo, and Patrick Makau, have graced the Fukuoka Marathon with their presence, contributing to the event's global significance.

Japanese runners have also left an indelible mark on the Fukuoka Marathon, with Toshihiko Seko and Takeyuki Nakayama securing multiple victories in the past.

Nakayama's 1987 run, where he was on world record pace until a heavy downpour slowed him down, remains a memorable chapter in the event's history. 

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