At the 2024 Nagoya Women’s Marathon held on Sunday, March 10, Yuka Ando of Japan won her first marathon in 2:21:19. She bettered her personal best for the first time in seven years.

Unfortunately, she was unable to reach the Japanese/Asian record of 2:18:59 just set by Honami Maeda in January. She did, however, secure the final spot on the nation’s Paris Olympics team. Still, she commented tearfully after the race, “There are many people who have helped me to get this far, and I’m filled with gratitude. I can’t go to Paris, but I’m really happy that I won,” bringing great emotion to the marathon fans gathered in the streets of Nagoya and watched the race throughout Japan.

After a chilly start with a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius and a wind speed of 1 mph, three leading Japanese athletes, Ando, Ayuko Suzuki, and Rika Kaseda, formed the leading pack with 2022 World Champion Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia and 2023 Asian Champion Eunice Chebichii Chumba of Bahrain. Despite the difficult conditions with headwinds at many points, the group crossed the halfway point in 1:09:56. The Japanese started to fall behind with Suzuki around 25km, and Ando and Kaseda around 16km, but Ando and Kaseda continued to chase the lead pack side by side.

Around 36km, Gebreslase stopped running and dropped out of the race, which left Chumba in first and Ando in second, and the two went neck-to-neck after 39km. Ando, responding to the passionate cheers from the roadside, sped off at the last 700-800 m and burst into the final stretch in Vantelin Dome Nagoya to capture the dramatic upset victory. Chumba finished second in 2:21:25, and Suzuki finished third in 2:21:33 with a new personal best.

In the post-race interview, Ando, winning the first marathon in her career, said with a smile, “It was really hard when I fell behind the lead pack, but I was able to catch up by running, only focusing on going forward. Thanks to all the cheering along the course, I was able to do my best. I want to make today a new start and do my best again with a fresh mindset.”

Thirteen of the top 20 finishers were from Japan and sub-2ub-2:30. Seven ran under the Paris Olympic standard of 2:26:50. Missing by a heartbreaking four seconds was Natsuki Omori from Japan – 2:26:54. It was the 29-year-old’s personal best.

Alongside the spectacular elite race, many women joined the world’s largest women’s marathon from home and abroad, making the total number of participants 15,421. All finishers received the symbol of the event, the exclusively designed pendant from a global premium jeweller, Tiffany & Co., as a memento of their accomplishment. The Marathon Expo, held in conjunction with the race, also attracted 101,416 visitors over the three days and took part in the festival of women’s running that Nagoya proudly stages to the rest of the world.

The Race Organizer commented, “Thanks to the runners, volunteers, and everyone involved, we were able to hold the race once again this year without any major accidents. We are truly grateful for all the runners for their participation and the volunteers and all the others for their support.”

Results

1. Yuka Ando (Japan) – 2:21:18 – PB

2. Eunice Chebichii Chumba (Bahrain) – 2:21:25

3. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan) – 2:21:33 – PB

4. Rika Kaseda (Japan) – 2:22:11

5. Yuyu Xia (China) – 2:25:45 – PB

6. Delvine Relin Meringor (Romania) – 2:26:09

7. Hikari Onishi (Japan) – 2:26:12

8. Natsuki Omori (Japan) – 2:26:54

9. Camille French (New Zealand) – 2:28:23

10. Giovanna Epis (Italy) – 2:28:24

11. Zhixuan Li (China) – 2:28:49

12. Akino Asahina (Japan) – 2:28:59 – debut

13. Yuri Mitsune (Japan) – 2:29:49 – PB

14. Yuki Nakamura (Japan) – 2:30:31 – debut

15. Momoko Watanabe (Japan) – 2:30:43

16. Kaena Takeyama (Japan) – 2:31:52

17. Honoka Tanaike (Japan) – 2:32:11

18. Yukari Nagatomo (Japan) – 2:33:46 – debut

19. Yuri Karasawa (Japan) – 2:36:55

20. Jingfen Li (China) – 2:38:19

21. Rosie Weber (Australia) – 2:38:47 – PB

22. Beverley Ramos (Puerto Rico) – 2:39:11

23. Debbie Donald (New Zealand) – 2:40:39 – PB

24. Mai Fujisawa (Japan) – 2:41:46

25. Tomomi Sawahata (Japan) – 2:44:34

26. Fuuka Hirokawa (Japan) – 2:45:27

27. Yukari Seimiya (Japan) – 2:46:33

28. Lexy Gilmour (Australia) – 2:47:24 – debut

29. Yuki Koga (Japan) – 2:47:31 – PB

30. Izumi Onodera (Japan) – 2:48:26 – PB

For more information about the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, visit:
https://womens-marathon.nagoya/en/

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