Dickson Chumba and Birhane Dibaba may have won the Toyko Marathon on Sunday (February 25), but the performances of Japanese marathoners, in particular, Yuta Shitara, deserves the headlines.
Kenyan Chumba won the men’s title in 2:05:29, while defending champion Wilson Kipsang dropped out, however, it was Yuta Shitara in second place that was the performance of the race.
Shitara, who ran his previous best of 2:09:03 in Berlin last year, clocked an incredible 2:06:10 to break the Japanese record and picked up the staggering prize pot of 100 million yen, approximately £670,130.
The 26-year-old also broke the national half marathon record last year, clocking 60:17 in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic, only nine days before competing in the Berlin Marathon.
The Japanese marathon history doesn’t stop with Shitara and a fantastic six men ran sub 2:09 on the streets of Toyko.
That is incredible strength and depth and putting it into perspective only five British men have broken the 2:09 barrier in total, never mind a single race.
For American marathoners, it is a similar story with only eight men ever dipping under the mark.
In recent years Japenese distance runners have made strides on the half marathon and now that strength is transferring to the 26.2 miles.
Ethiopian Dibaba won the women’s crown in personal-best 2:19:50, with compatriot Ruti Aga taking second in 2:21:19, while USA’s Amy Cragg ran a big personal best 2:21:42 for third.
Wolrd Championships bronze medalist Cragg becomes only the fifth American to run sub 2:22.
Full results can be found here.