Zersenay Set New Half Marathon Course Record in Japan

Zersenay Tadese tweets: "Half Marathons?... I'm engineered for it. Done it again in Japan"
Zersenay Tadese tweets: “Half Marathons?… I’m engineered for it. Done it again in Japan”


Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese and Ethiopia’s Mestawet Tufa set new course records [1:00:31] when winning at the third edition of the Naoko Takahashi Cup / Gifu Seiryu Half Marathonan IAAF Bronze Label Road Race in 1:00:31 and 1:10:03 respectively on Sunday (19).

Zersenay, the six-time World champion on the roads and at cross country, improved the former course record set by Kenya’s Martin Mathathi two years ago by 16 seconds – and Mathathi also won last year in 1:01:29 – while Tufa, in her first race over the distance since 2010, sliced neatly three minutes off the course record set by South Africa’s Rene Kalmer 12 months ago. 

Kenya’s Patrick Muendo Mwaka led the through the opening kilometres in the men’s race and was part of a trio who passed 5km in 14:14, accompanied by Ethiopia’s Abayneh Ayele and Zersenay.

However, Zersenay and Ayele soon started to edge away from Mwaka, and another two kilometres down the road, the race favourite started to drop his Ethiopian rival.

At 10km, which Tadese reached in 28:18, Ayele was 10 seconds in arrears. The next 5km proved crucial as Tadese continued to forge ahead and he reached the 15km checkpoint in 42:48, 11 seconds ahead of Mathathi’s course record split.

Behind him, Ayele started to falter and was passed just before 15km by a three Kenyans working together, Mathathi, Jacob Wanjuki and Cyrus Njui, but the trip were 35 seconds behind Tadese with just over six kilometres to go.

Mathathi and Wanjuki closed the gap a little on Zersenay in the final five kilometres but the Eritrean still was strong enough to win the race by 24 seconds with the former winner Mathathi second in 1:00:54, followed by Wanjuki one second further back and Njui fourth in 1:0108 while Ayele came home fifth in 1:01:43.

The top local runner was Taiga Ito in eighth place in 1:03:45.

The women’s race turned into a thrilling duel between Tufa, the 20078 IAAF World Cross Country Championships silver medallist, and Kenya’s Eunice Jepkirui, the pair starting the race at a super-fast pace, passing 5km in 16:04, which put them initially on course for a time below 68 minutes and gave them a lead of over a minute from the best of the rest of the women’s field.

Inevitable the pace started to slow but, running together, the pair passed 10km in 32:47, 15Km in 49:36 and then 20Km in 1:06:36. However Tufa surged just before they entered the stadium and won from Jepkirui, third in the Paris Marathon last month, by six seconds; with Australia’s Lara Tamsett a distant third in 1:13:33.


Tadese Wins Over Mathathi for Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon

By Japan Running News,

World record holder Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) took down defending champion Martin Mathathi (Kenya/SuzukiHamamatsu AC) at Sunday’s Gifu SeiryuHalf Marathon, getting away early to set a new course record of 1:00:31.

Leading a pack of six through a 14:14 opening 5 km split, Tadese dropped a 14:04 over the next 5 km to take the race out of the competition’s comfort zones and go ahead alone.

With a 37-second lead over the chase group of Mathathi, Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) and Cyrus Njui (Kenya/ Team Hitachi Butsuryu) at 15 km Tadese backed off to a 14:34 split from 15 to 20 km, but despite Mathathi and Wanjuki picking it up and closing the gap they were too far away and had to settle for a duel for 2nd, Mathathi proving the stronger as he crossed the line in 1:00:54, two seconds ahead of Wanjuki.

Moscow World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t), running just a week after going sub-64 at the Sendai International Half Marathon, struggled in to a 14th-place finish in 1:05:05.

3rd Naoko Takahashi Cup Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon


1. Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) – 1:00:31 – CR
2. Martin Mathathi (Kenya/Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) – 1:00:54
3. Jacob Wanjuki (Kenya/Team Aichi Seiko) – 1:00:55
4. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/Team Hitachi Butsuryu) – 1:01:08
5. Abayneh Ayele (Ethiopia/Team Mazda) – 1:01:43
6. Patrick Muwaka (Kenya/Team Aisan Kogyo) – 1:01:57
7. Micah Njeru (Kenya/Team Toyota Boshoku) – 1:02:38
8. Taiga Ito (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) – 1:03:45
9. Yoshiki Otsuka (Team Aichi Seiko) – 1:04:37
10. Ryan Vail (U.S.A.) – 1:04:52

10 thoughts on “Zersenay Set New Half Marathon Course Record in Japan


    Provided by IAAF,

    The third annual Naoko Takahashi Cup Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon has only ever had one men’s winner in the short history of the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race – Kenya’s Martin Mathathi. But the two-time champion will this Sunday (19) be up against World record-holder Zersenay Tadese.

    Mathathi set the course record of 1:00:47 at the inaugural event in 2011, then returned in 2012 to win in 1:01:29. But his title defence will be made more difficult by the presence of Tadese.

    Tadese’s World record of 58:23, set in 2010, is more than 30 seconds quicker than Mathathi’s 58:56 PB. But in terms of head-to-heads between the pair, Mathathi has the advantage 3-2, having beaten Tadese at the 2006 World Cross and the 2005 and 2007 World Championships, winning the 10,000m bronze medal in the latter. But this Sunday’s clash will be the first time they have met in a Half-marathon.

    Others in the field include Kenya’s Jacob Wanjuki, a former winner in Nagoya with a PB of 60:32, and compatriots Cyrus Njui (61:03) and Micah Njeru (61:33). All three live in Japan and run for corporate-sponsored track teams and have contested this race at least once before.

    Yuki Kawauchi, on the other hand, does not run for corporate sponsored track team. He was, until recently, the ultimate amateur runner, working in a high school as an administrator, training and racing in his spare time. One of his claims to fame is his two consecutive 2:08 Marathons within six weeks – 2:08:15 on 3 February in Oita and 2:08:14 in Seoul on 17 March.

    Kawauchi’s Half-marathon best is 62:18 from Marugame last year. He finished tenth at last Sunday’s Sendai Half Marathon with 1:03:30, so the Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon will be his second Half-marathon within a week and he hopes to run at least another 63-minute Half-marathon on Sunday.

    Ethiopia’s Abayneh Ayele could be the surprise package. This will be his Half-marathon debut, but he boasts a 5000m PB of 13:11.01, so could be capable of running a fast time.

    Tufa vs Jepkirui in women’s race

    The women’s race is likely to be between 2008 World cross-country silver medallist Mestawet Tufa, and Kenya’s 2:21 marathon runner Eunice Kirwa Jepkirui.

    Tufa made her Marathon debut earlier this year in Nagoya, clocking a respectable 2:26:20. She has not contested a Half-marathon since setting her 68:48 PB in Delhi 2010, but is clearly in form if her performance in Nagoya is anything to go by.

    Jepkirui owns the faster PBs of the pair, with 2:21:41 in the Marathon and 68:38 in the Half-marathon, and she recently finished third at the Paris Marathon with 2:23:34.

    Whoever wins, the women’s course record of 1:13:02, set by Rene Kalmer in 2012, is very likely to be broken.

    Although former Marathon World record-holder Catherine Ndereba has the fastest PB of all the women’s entrants with 67:54, she has not broken 70 minutes for the Half-marathon since 2009, so the 40-year-old is not expected to challenge for the victory.

    The race starts and finishes at the Gifu Memorial Centre where the statue of Naoko Takahashi, the 2000 Olympic Marathon champion, is standing, and runs along Nagara River. The course, which goes through her hometown of Gifu, was designed under the supervision of Takahashi, honorary race director.

    In addition to 9000 runners in the Half-marathon, a 3km road race with 1000 runners is also scheduled to be held.

    Ken Nakamura for the IAAF



    Zersenay Tadese (ERI) 58:23

    Martin Mathathi (KEN) 58:56

    Jacob Wanjuki (KEN) 60:32

    Cyrus Njui (KEN) 61:03

    Micah Njeru (KEN) 61:33

    Ryan Vail (USA) 62:04

    Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 62:18

    Dmytro Baranovskyy (UKR) 63:14

    Ayele Abayneh (ETH) debut


    Catherine Ndereba (KEN) 67:54

    Eunice Kirwa Jepkirui (KEN) 68:39

    Mestawet Tufa (ETH) 68:48

    Lara Tamsett (AUS) 72:19

  2. Once again, Thank you Zeresenay for an early Independence gift of Eritrea…
    Keep up the hard work, Eritrea's all time super athlete

  3. Congratulations for your hard work and success. Zeresenay pleas continue, I wish you all the best to come your drim true.

  4. Still number 1in the world in 2013! It was 2004 Olympic game when Eritrea registered its 1st. Olympic Medal in 10,000 meters when Zerersenay won the silver medal in Athens Greece. Eritrea had 4 athletes compared to US 536, Australia 482, Germany 479 Russia 456, Greece 441 and China 407 participants. Economists sometimes have a strange way of explaining things, by looking at numbers. Using a sophisticated econometric model, an Economist concluded that Eritrea had the most medal of the game, given its size of population, number of athletes participated and GDP of the country. He ranked Eritrea as the No. 1 Winner Country of the Game. __Zeresenay keep running ahead of the pack._Congratulation, God Bless You and Protect You. You always made us proud!

  5. ThanKs ……wedi Eri
    Some thing to make us smile in this full of griff days … My heart go to those who are locked up in the desert of sini.

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