GELMISA AND WANJIRU ARE 2023 TOKYO MARATHON CHAMPIONS
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2023 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved – Used with permission.
NOTE: This story was written remotely –Ed.
(05-Mar) — Ethiopia’s Deso Gelmisa and Kenya’s Rosemary Wanjiru won today’s 43rd Tokyo Marathon, prevailing in suspenseful and fast races. Gelmisa, 25, eked out his victory in a three-man sprint, just edging compatriots Mohamed Esa and Tsegaye Getachew Kebede in 2:05:22. Wanjiru, 28, won in a classic race of attrition, running solo from 40 kilometers to the finish and breaking the tape in 2:16:28, the second-fastest time ever by a woman in a Japanese marathon.
Both races started out aggressively, and on the men’s side a staggering 60 men ran the first 10 kilometers in under 30 minutes (2:06:35 pace). At the front, three Kenyan pacemakers — Ledama Kisaisa, Amos Kurgat and Benard Kimeli– recorded an official split of 29:21, on pace for a 2:03:51 finish. That was faster than race organizers had requested, targeting the Japanese national record of 2:04:56 set by Kengo Suzuki in Otsu in 2021.
Gelmisa was part of the early lead pack, but stayed tucked in. Other prominent athletes included Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma, Uganda’s Stephen Kissa, Canada’s Cam Levins, and Japan’s Hiroto Inoue.
The three pacers kept up the hot tempo through halfway (1:02:07), and there were still 33 men within five seconds of the leaders. Kisaisa was the first pacer to drop out (just before 25 km) while Kurgat and Kimeli stayed in until 30 km. At that point (1:28:39) the lead pack was still on pace for a fast time, in the range of 2:04:41, still under Suzuki’s record. Inoue, Suguru Osako, Kenya Sonota, and Ichitaka Yamashita were all still in position to break that mark.
With the pacers out, the pace began to slip and the athletes began to turn their attention to racing each other instead of the clock. Inoue, Osako, and Sonota were having trouble keeping up (Osako was seen rubbing out a stitch on his right side). Before 40 km there were still too many men in contention, so Kenya’s Titus Kipruto put in a surge to break up the race. His move cut the lead pack to just six: Kipruto, Gelmisa, Esa, Levins, Getachew Kebede, and Deme Tadu Abate. Yamashita was 16 second back and was pulling away from Osako.
In the final meters Kipruto, Levins and Abate were out of contention for the win, leaving Gelmisa, Esa and Getachew Kebede to fight it out in the final sprint. Gelmisa had the…
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