Namban ladies tough it out in final Tokyo International Women’s Marathon


The last ever Tokyo International Women’s Marathon was run on Sunday November the 16th, 2008. TIWM was the very first women’s only marathon in the world and it has produced many memorable moments such as the glory and despair of Q-chan (Japan’s marathon darling, Naoko Takahashi) and Mizuki Noguchi’s record breaking victory in 2007.  While the pointy end of the race was a fascinating duel won by Yoshimi Ozaki, Namban Rengo had eight of our fairest representatives having their own battles with this challenging race that features a 3 hour 35 minute cutoff time.

Yoshiko, Mary, Satohi, Masako, Chika, Rie, Leng Leng and Mika started the race at the National Stadium under dark skies and intermittent rain, but a favorable 16 degrees centigrade temperature. Unfortunately our one representative in the elite division, Yuri Kanbara, was struck down with a fever on the morning of the race and could not start. However former Nambanner and now professional distance runner, Mara Yamauchi, placed third in the race giving us all a chance to bask in her reflected glory.

It was a tough day for our women. It would be fair to say that none of them had a race that would have met met their highest self-expectations. Sadly, two of them were even stopped at check points for failing to make the progressive cutoff times at the 30 km and 40 km check points. But nobody should underestimate the mental toughness needed for this race whose sweeper is a fleet of grim buses waiting to scoop up those who fall behind the required pace. Tokyo’s roads must be re-opened on schedule!!

Nevertheless, a race report would not be complete without some results which were as follows:Mika Tokairin (3:16:05), Rie Onodera (3:23:51), Yoshiko Katakura (3:27:25), Satohi Numasawa (3:27:28), Leng Leng Koh (3:31:45),  Masako Konishi (3:35:35), Chika Kanai (DNF; 40 km), Mary Eckstein (DNF; 30 km).

To all our ladies, we are very proud of you just for taking on this imposing race and giving it everything. As Singapore resident Leng Leng Koh said, “There are races for PBs and there are races for the Finish. This is for the Finish.”  Those who finished, well done!! Those who didn’t, our hearts go out to you and no matter what, always remember that this club is very proud of you for taking on this awesome challenge. There other monsters to slay. Go get ‘em!