Kenya's Patrick Makau wins Fukuoka marathon

MARATHON-JPN Patrick Makau of Kenya crosses the finish line to win the 69th Fukuoka International open marathon championship in Fukuoka on December 6, 2015. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS

Kenya's defending champion Patrick Makau claimed the title in Fukuoka International Marathon on Sunday.

“It was a good race for me. It was also a challenging race because of good runners from Kenya and Ethiopia,” said Makau, who enjoyed near perfect weather for marathon running: complete cloud cover with temperature at the start of 12.9 degrees Celsius, humidity of 61 per cent and virtually windless condition

“After the (two) pacemakers dropped out at 25km, everyone was waiting to see who is going to take over the lead,” explained Makau.

Until the 25km point – with splits of 5km in 15:06, 10km 30:00, 15km 45:05, 20km 60:08 and halfway in 63:29 – the runners were on course for a time around 2:07:00 or possibly even a bit quicker given the growing trend for negative splits in major marathons.

However, the pace then abruptly slackened to 3:07 for the next kilometre and they never really recovered except for a few brief surges.

After 30km was passed in 1:30:49, with 10km to go at 32km, the lead pack was down to Makau, his Kenyan compatriot Bernard Koech, Ethiopia’s Feleke and local Japanese hope Satoru Sasaki. Just before 35km, Koech accelerated to leave all his three rivals temporarily behind. However, Makau quickly covered the break and moved up to join Koech.

Just after 37km, and with less than 5km left in the race, Makau made his own move and clinched his victory in the 69th edition of the famous Japanese race, eventually coming home four seconds faster than his 2014 win.

“In Kenya, we put a marker at say five kilometres to go and practice surging at the maker,” Makau explained after the race, but once Makau left Koech behind he did not push the pace anymore and seemingly did just enough to win the race.

To put Makau’s wining time into context with contemporary standards, 2:08:18 is the same time that Australia’s Rob De Castella ran in the 1981 Fukuoka Marathon which, 34 years ago, was a world best performance.

“Next year, I would like to run 2:05. If I can do that, it will be a good time for my age,” said Makau, who will be 31 next March.

The former world record holder won the race in 2:08:18.

Getu Feleke from Ethiopia won the silver in 2:08:31, while Japan's Satoru Sasaki finished third, logging a personal best record of 2:08:56.