Report28 Jan 2024

Edesa smashes Osaka course record, Maeda breaks Asian record


Workenesh Edesa wins in Osaka (© AFP / Getty Images)

Workenesh Edesa took more than two minutes off the Osaka Women’s Marathon course record, winning the World Athletics Platinum Label road race in an equal PB of 2:18:51 on Sunday (28).

In a close race, the Ethiopian won by just eight seconds from long-time leader Honami Maeda of Japan, who clocked an Asian record of 2:18:59. Her time also puts her in a strong position to claim a spot on Japan’s team for the Paris Olympics later this year.

Five women – Edesa, Maeda, three-time winner Mizuki Matsuda, Ugandan record-holder Stella Chesang and Sayaka Sato – ran together for the first half, passing through 5km in 16:32 and 10km in 32:59. By the time they reached half way in 1:09:46 – comfortably on schedule to break Matsuda’s course record of 2:20:52 – they had a lead of more than two minutes on the chase pack.

Maeda tried to push on in the second half and the lead pack soon became strung out, Matsuda being one of the first to fall behind. Maeda built up a five-second lead over Edesa at 30km, passing through that checkpoint in 1:38:36, while Chesang was further back in third, a few seconds ahead of Sato.

But after another kilometre, Edesa caught up with Maeda and the Ethiopian gradually built up an 11-second lead by 35km (1:54:46). Maeda refused to let Edesa get out of her sights, though. Chesang appeared to have a comfortable 24-second lead over Sato at this point, while Matsuda was a distant fifth, two minutes behind the leader.

Edesa held on to her lead through to the finish with Maeda chasing hard behind. Edesa crossed the line in 2:18:51, with Maeda taking second in 2:18:59, taking 13 seconds off the Japanese and Asian record set in 2005 by 2004 Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi.

But the real drama was unfolding behind as Matsuda passed Sato and then Chesang to make her way into third spot, crossing the line in 2:23:07. Chesang took fourth (2:23:36), more than a minute ahead of Sato. Germany’s Katharina Steinruck – daughter of three-time Osaka winner Katrin Dorre-Heinig – was sixth in a PB of 2:24:56.

“My goal was to break the course record,” said Edesa, who now shifts her attention to success at the Boston Marathon in a few months’ time.

Maeda, whose previous PB was 2:22:32, also admitted she had records on her mind leading up to today’s race. “In the later part of the race, I wasn’t sure if I could accomplish my goal because the wind and rain hit me in the final stages.”

Leading results

1 Workenesh Edesa (ETH) 2:18:51
2 Honami Maeda (JPN) 2:18:59
3 Mizuki Matsuda (JPN) 2:23:07
4 Stella Chesang (UGA) 2:23:36
5 Sayaka Sato (JPN) 2:24:43
6 Katharina Steinruck (GER) 2:24:56
7 Natsumi Matsushita (JPN) 2:25:10
8 Yuna Daito (JPN) 2:25:16
9 Madoka Nakano (JPN) 2:26:50
10 Mayu Nishikawa (JPN) 2:26:50

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