OTSU – Ethiopia’s Bazu Worku won Sunday’s Lake Biwa Marathon, denying defending champion Vincent Kipruto of Kenya his second straight title.
Worku clocked a time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, 10 seconds in Japan’s oldest annual marathon, which begins and ends at Ojiyama Stadium.
Satoru Sasaki was second with a mark of 2:09:47 in the race that is serving as one of three qualifying events for Japan’s team at this year’s Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Kipruto was third in 2:09:54, while Yuki Kawauchi finished fourth in 2:10:38.
A three-way battle ensued with Sasaki, Worku and Kipruto after the 30-km point, but Sasaki slowed his pace with 5 km remaining. He held off Kipruto but was unable to reel in Worku.
The other two Asian Games qualifiers were December’s Fukuoka International Marathon and last month’s Tokyo Marathon. Two runners who finish in the top three in those races will earn a spot on the team for Incheon. Kawauchi was third in Fukuoka, while no Japanese finished in the top three in Tokyo.
Victory at the Asian Games guarantees a runner a spot at the 2015 world championships. The top eight Japanese runners at next year’s worlds will get automatic berths at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.