Japan's Toyokazu Yoshimura and Ayumi Hayashi won their respective races yesterday at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, with Hayashi dominating the women's race to win by eight minutes.
It was the first Japanese double in the event since Yuko Yamazoe and Hajime Nakatomi won both races in 1994.
Yoshimura finished the men's race in 2 hours, 20 minutes and 7 seconds, 39 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Ben Ruthe of New Zealand (2:20.46). Oswald Revilian of Tanzania was third, two seconds behind Ruthe.
Hayashi easily won the women's race in 2:33.22, well ahead of second-placed Lindsey Scherf of Australia (2:41.22). Another Australian, Lauren Shelley, was third.
The winners were part of a large group of Japanese runners who came to the Gold Coast on a chartered flight from Tokyo. It was one of the first international flights to arrive at the Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta where the runway was recently extended to handle long-haul jets.
"I went with the flow and ran with the rest of the pack until I broke away at the end," Yoshimura said. "I went for my personal best [2:17:10] and was really close. My family came to Australia with me to encourage me and give me support -- I know they would have been cheering me on the whole way."
Second-place finisher Ruthe broke new ground -- literally.
"It was the first time I've run more than 21km, so that was something else," Ruthe said. "I was just running on instinct -- I didn't have time to think about the race."
Women's winner Hayashi said she enjoyed her first journey overseas.
"I am having a lot of fun, the run was great and I definitely want to come back next year and defend my title," she said.
Second-placed Scherf said she entered the race almost as an afterthought.
"I'm studying psychology at the University of Queensland and thought I might as well run while I'm here," she said. "Being a 5-to 10-km runner I found it easy in the initial stages of the race, but it did get a lot harder halfway through and I just told myself to slow down, relax and focus.''
Patrick Nyangelo of Tanzania, who has won Sydney's City to Surf run three times, took the Gold Coast half-marathon yesterday in 1:03.00, his second win in the event.
"I felt good all the way and it was good that the lead pack was pushing me along," Nyangelo said. "This is a personal best for me, so I'm extremely happy."
Lisa Weightman of Australia won the women's race over the same distance in 1:12.02, followed by three Japanese runners -- Mai Endo (1:12.17), Mayumi Fujita (1:14.22) and Akane Mutazaki (1:16.09).
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