LOW temperatures and persistent rain put a slight dampener on the celebratory aspect of the 13th Tokyo Marathon, but it did not harm the runners’ overall performances, including that of Stratford Athletic Club’s Simon Bolton.
The winner, Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese, clocked the event’s second best time ever (2:04:48) and a record 38,000 runners participated.
Stratford AC’s Bolton continued his quest to complete all six races in the World Marathon Majors series. With Chicago, London, New York and now Tokyo completed in just two years, he just needs Boston and Berlin to complete the set.
His time of 3:40.33 was just shy of his marks from London last year and New York in 2017. He finished just outside the top 20 per cent of finishers and was 138th out of 451 finishers from Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Bolton was delighted to finish the race in one piece. He has had only four weeks to train due to a stress fracture in his foot and, not wanting to ramp up the mileage too quickly, he felt he had dramatically under-trained.
The start of the race brought the usual combination of pre-marathon excitement and nerves, but this time the pouring rain was added to the equation.
He managed a nice even pace for the first 20 miles. His three 5km splits from 5-15km were all within just three seconds of each other and he then decided to tactically back off for the remainder of the race to prevent a complete breakdown.
“The rain didn’t stop, although, like my pace, it eased towards the end,” said Bolton. “Given the weather, the support from the spectators was brilliant, with decent crowds along the whole course.
“I arrived at the finish line wet and cold but was delighted at coming in at a respectable 3:40:33. It was not my fastest marathon by a long way but perhaps my proudest, given the sheer determination I needed to get round it.”
Stratford duo crack 90 at Warwick Half
THE WARWICK Half Marathon followed its traditional route through the lovely Warwickshire countryside, providing athletes with an excellent opportunity to compete in an undulating, traffic-free road race.
Seven members of SAC were among the 954 competitors who completed the race and first of these to finish was James Cusack, dipping under the 90-minute mark with a time of 1:29:03 to finish in 61st place.
“It was a rainy wet morning but an enjoyable event all the same,” said Cusack. “It’s an undulating race from start to finish so I was very pleased to get 1:29:03. New club member Adrian Mason was close on my heels throughout but I managed to hold him off.
“My build-up continues to the London Marathon in April, which I’m really looking forward to competing in with many of my Stratford AC club-mates.”
Adrian Mason also went under the 90-minute mark with a time of 1:29:25 to finish just five places behind Cusack in 66th.
Lynne Hinson (307th, 1:43:23) was the first of four Stratford women to finish. She was also fifth in her age category. Just over a minute after Hinson and seven places further back, Annie Cox finished in 1:44:40 – almost six minutes quicker than her previous best time for this distance.
She was followed by Sarah Boundy (2:04:36) who was herself followed by the club’s international marathon runner Kate Sergent, who won the W65 category in 2:13. Her husband Martyn completed the Stratford contingent in a time of 2:28:02.
Kate and Martyn were both nervous about starting the half, as they had had to cancel a half marathon two weeks ago due to a mixture injury and illness.
Consequently, they started slowly, with Kate testing out her hamstring and Martyn his chest. They had both decided to try to keep a steady pace, with the Ashby 20 race just three weeks away.
Kate got stronger the further she went and she stretched her hamstring out by race-walking up the many hills. Martyn just battled on, having coughing fits along the way and both were thrilled to complete the race.
England 10km Race Walking Championships
STRATFORD’S international racewalker Paul Hawkins competed in by far the most illustrious field he has ever raced in when he contested the England Athletics 10km Race Walking Championships at Warwick University at the weekend.
He was joined by fellow club member Malcolm Bowyer, who was competing in his first championship as a race walker.
The fields were a veritable who’s who of English racewalking and were headed by Commonwealth silver medallist Tom Bosworth, who set the current British record on this course of 39:36 when winning this competition in 2015.
Bosworth was challenged by 2016 world U20 champion Callum Wilkinson, plus Cameron Corbishley, who took the England indoor 3,000m title in Sheffield in January, leading junior Chris Snook and England indoor bronze medallist Tom Partington.
Hawkins completed the race in 65:14, placing 13th overall and comfortably winning his age category by finishing two minutes ahead of his closest rival.
The race was held under IAAF rules, so there was a pit lane where competitors were brought into for penalties. Hawkins picked up a penalty for a red card, but it was not reported until after the race finished, so he was not pulled into the pit lane during the race and instead had one minute added to his time.
“It was not a day for personal best because of the weather, which was disappointing as I thought I was on for a decent time – that will have to wait,” said Hawkins.
“I was quite happy with my walk and it was easily the best quality field I’ve competed in. I managed a very even pace, which I was pleased with.”
Unfortunately Bowyer was disqualified after 8km for not locking his knee, but he enjoyed the experience and wants to do more.
Reports compiled by David Jones.