Meskerem Assefa of Ethiopia wins Nagoya Marathon

Meskerem Assefa takes the 2018 Nagoya Marathon (AFP/Getty Images)

Coming from behind in the 38th kilometre, Meskerem Assefa of Ethiopia cruised to a one-minute victory at the Nagoya Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label road race, on Sunday (11).

Assefa passed Kenyan Valary Jemeli Aiyabei en route to victory in 2:21:45, the third fastest performance ever in Nagoya which this year underscored its status as the largest women’s-only marathon in the world, with 23,713 starting the race.

“I wanted to win, especially because it is a women only marathon,” Assefa said.

Aiyabei was second in 2:22:48 with Japanese debutante Hanami Sekine third in 2:23:07.

Along with Sekine, the next two finishers, Reia Iwade who clocked 2:26:28 and Keiko Nogami who finished with 2:26:33, qualified for Japan’s 2020 Olympic Marathon team trials race. Nogami improved her best by nearly two minutes from 2:28:18, while Iwade ran the second fastest marathon of her career. Hanae Tanaka, the fourth Japanese in the race and sixth overall, did not qualify for the trials race because she could not crack the required 2:27.

With the first season of qualification for the 2020 Olympic Marathon team trials race over, six women have qualified, still considerably less than the 13 who have qualified for the men’s race.

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