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Japan Rules Phukethon 2017

 Azusa Nojiri - Pukethon 2017

Thailand – Japanese athletes dominated the inaugural Phukethon, the first annual running festival on the Thai holiday island of Phuket. Clubmates, Hiroki Kai and Azusa Nojiri won their respective marathons with Nojiri finishing sixth overall; while Kansuke Morihashi won the men’s half-marathon, with Thai Olympian in Rio last year, Natthaya Thanaronnwat winning the women’s ‘half’.

Japanese athletes dominant in Phukethon 2017

Atmospheric conditions in South East Asia are always going to give the lie to reliance on fast times as a measure of excellence. Accordingly, it is the run itself which is the measure of the man or woman. And Kai and Nojiri delivered in spades. They set the pace in the relative cool of an early morning 24C start, and when they hit the rolling hilly section between 18-21k, peaking on Cape Promthep, both the highest point and best vista in Phuket, they began to pull away from their respective chasers.

As the temperature rose, with a slight drop of humidity into sunrise, they both increased their advantage, with Kai coming home well clear in 2.29.37, and Nojiri emulating her colleague, with a win in 2.54.07, beating all but five men in the mixed race.

There was an interesting tussle behind Kai in the men’s race. When Alexandr Cherburkin of Russia express an interest in running, the organisers had to check with the IAAF that it was only elite Russians, considered for championship events that were excluded from international competition. So it proved; thus a US v Russia race, between Cherburkin and Fernando Cabada ensued until Cabada was forced out at 36k with a foot problem. Cherburkin ran on to second, in 2.35.38, with another Japanese Masaki Shirotake finishing third in 2.36.57.

Nojiri was even less troubled by pursuers. She easily outdistanced Wang Ting of China, second in 3.01.48, and Olga Andrejeva of Estonia, third in 3.02.41.

Race organiser, Boonperm Intanapasat, known as ‘Pom’ was overwhelmed by the response from local and Thai runners. “To get over 9000 entries for our first weekend running festival on Phuket is a huge encouragement. Given that Phuket is such an international holiday venue, we are expecting many more to make the trip next year, and have a good run as well as a holiday”.



1. Hiroki Kai JAPAN 2:29:37
2. Aleksandr Cheburkin RUSSIA 2:35:38
3. Masaki Shirotake JAPAN 2:36:57
4. Julius Mutai KENYA 2:43:45
5. Raivo Alla ESTONIA 2:46:01


1. Azusa Nojiri JAPAN 2:54:07
2. Wang Ting CHINA 3:01:48
3. Olga Andrejeva ESTONIA 3:02:41
4. Nora Trkja SERBIA 3:19:47
5. Uraiwan Donchada THAILAND 3:39:00

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