TOKYO – Ethiopian runners won the men’s and women’s races at the 12th edition of the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, braving a wet and windy weather.
Birhanu Legese won the men’s race, his first major title, clocking a time of 2:04:48.
Kenya’s Bedan Karoki finished second in 2:06:48, while compatriot Dickson Chumba, who had won twice in Tokyo, came third in 2:08.44, more than three minutes slower than his 2018 race.
Japan’s hope for a homegrown victory was dashed when Suguru Osako, who set a new Japanese national record in October, was injured and pulled out of the race 30 kilometers in.
“I am determined to do everything possible for the race so that at least five Japanese will run (a) 2:06 marathon before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” race director Tad Hayano had said, according to a statement by the Tokyo Marathon Foundation on Sunday, before the race.
Ethiopian Ruti Aga won the women’s race in a time of 2:20:40, defeating compatriot Helen Tola by 21 seconds.
Around 38,000 runners had defied the miserable weather to take part in the iconic race through the heart of downtown Tokyo, one of the six races in the World Marathon Majors (WMM) and one of the largest in the world.
“Tokyo Marathon 2019 will be held today as scheduled,” a statement on the official website had said on Sunday against a rain forecast.
“Please make sure all runners and volunteers will protect yourself against the cold weather and rain,” it had added.
On Sunday, the outside of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building – the starting point of the race – was an overflowing mass of running enthusiasts from all over the world.
The Tokyo Marathon foundation posted pictures of the race and various activities on the sidelines throughout the race.
“Festivals and events are being held on the roadside to support the marathon runners. Revelers at the Omikoshi event at Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine send prayers for the runners to make it safely to the finish!” one tweet said.
“More and more runners are coming in from the long run. So, everyone, how did you like your tour of the city of Tokyo?” another tweet asked four hours into the race.
The Tokyo Marathon is the first one in the spring stanza of AbbottWMM Series XII, where athletes have a chance to climb higher on the elite leaderboards.