He didn’t quite reach his goal of setting a new record on Canadian soil, but Japan’s Arata Fujiwara was thrilled, nonetheless, after setting a new course record for the Ottawa Marathon yesterday.
Fujiwara’s 2:09:33 marathon, which broke David Cheruiyot’s 2007 record of 2:10:35, marked both the 28-year-old’s first time in Canada and his first-ever marathon win.
“It felt great today,” said Fujiwara through his agent and translator, Brett Larner. “The conditions were fantastic … and it feels great to win.”
The best thing about the victory? No, it wasn’t the $23,000 US in prize money. Fujiwara enjoyed putting his hands in the air in “the guts pose” as he crossed the finish line.
“Although I’ve finished second and third a couple of times before, raising your hands in the air when you’re second or third is kind of embarrassing,” he laughed. “It was nice to be able to do it for once.”
Fujiwara, who made headlines in Japan after he became the first Japanese marathoner to leave a corporate team to run as an independent, wasn’t the only athlete to set a record yesterday. Rick Ball of Orillia broke his own world record for fastest marathon by an amputee with a time of 2:57:48. He set the previous record of 3:01:50 in 2009.
“It feels good to be the first single-leg amputee to break that three-hour mark,” said Ball.
The first woman to cross the finish line in a time of 2:28:19 was Merima Mohammed of Ethiopia, while Kitchener’s Stephen Drew and Brantford’s Krista DuChene were the first Canadians to cross the line with respective times of 2:21:47 and 2:39:07.
Drew, who ran his personal best of 2:18:10 at the Ottawa Marathon two years ago, hasn’t had an easy time of it lately. His longtime coach, Terry Goodenough, died suddenly a month ago.
“I wish he was here to see this today because I think he would have been very proud of it,” said the emotional 32-year-old. “There were times when I drew upon his inspiration.”
Organizers said 38,788 people participated in seven races over the weekend.