Jake Robertson clocked 2:08:26 on his eagerly debut over 26.2 miles at Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan on Sunday (March 4).
New Zealander Robertson crossed the line in third to finish in just over 2:08 with Japan-based Kenyan Macharia Ndirangu winning the IAAF Gold Label road race in 2:07:53.
It’s been a long time coming with Rod Dixon’s previous New Zealand record of 2:08:59 standing for 34 years.
With temperatures hot and as a strong international line-up and also plenty of domestic Japanese talent on show Robertson should take credit with his first venture over the historic distance.
The 28-year-old is well known in the distance running world as one of Robertson twins, Jake and Zane that uprooted from their home as teenagers and moved to lofty heights of Iten, Kenya to live and train with a dream to become the best runners they can possibly be.
Ten years on, the hard work paid off and Robertson has recorded a 60:01 half marathon personal best at the Lisbon Half Marathon in 2017, before winning the renowned Houston Half Marathon in the exact same time earlier this year. While brother Zane holds the New Zealand record over the half marathon and 10,000m.
Plans were in place to run the Fukuoka Marathon last year, but he had to withdraw just weeks before the race.
Thankfully Robertson made the start line this time in Japan and now marathon fans have some data beyond 13.1 miles to study.
Robertson was in the lead pack, often at the front, until very late in the race. With about 5km to run the lead two of Ndirangu and Albert Korir put an effort in to leave the Kiwi behind.
Ndirangu’s lead was unassailable but it looked possible that Robertson might catch Korir in the final stretch, but the 2017 Vienna marathon winner held on for a 2:08:16 finish.
The battle of the twins
Robertson wasn’t the only elite distance running twin in the event, with Keita Shitara, brother of Yuta Shitara, the new Japanese record holder, looking for a PB and Kenta Murayama, brother of Japanese international Kota Murayama in there too.