Gitahi, Kano savor marathon victories in Japan


SAPPORO, Japan — Kenya’s Julius Gitahi took his debut marathon victory in the men’s race Sunday at the Hokkaido Marathon in Japan, with local favourite Yuri Kano winning her first title in the women’s race.

The 29-year-old Kenyan runner, who has run for a Japanese club since the age of 15, took the lead at the 35-kilometer (22-mile) point and crossed the finishing line in two hours 17 minutes 26 seconds.

Japan’s Tadashi Shitamori had the lead after 19 kilometers, but Gitahi and another Kenyan, Ombeche Mokamba, caught up with him at the 34.7 kilometre mark before Gitahi kicked on to beat his compatriot.

Masaru Takamizawa came in second in 2:18:13 and Mokamba third in 2:18:18, while Shitamori faded to 11th place in 2:22:06.

The 28-year-old Kano, whose placed third in her debut marathon at Osaka in January, took the lead shortly before the five kilometer point and was unchallenged for the rest of the race, clocking a time of 2:30:43.

Fellow Japanese Masayo Kobayashi and Harumi Hiroyama fought for second spot with Kobayashi winning the battle in 2:33:00 and Hiroyama third in 2:33:39.