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Japanese woman sets W60 world record with 2:52 marathon in Osaka

Mariko Yugeta took four minutes off her previous age group record to finish in the top 50 at Sunday's race

Sunday’s Osaka Women’s Marathon in Japan saw many fast results, including a course record and world-leading time from Mao Ichiyama, who won the race in 2:21:11. Ichiyama’s win was not the biggest story of the day, however, as she and the rest of the field were overshadowed by Mariko Yugeta, a 62-year-old woman who posted an age group world record of 2:52:13. Yugeta’s time was good enough for 48th place, and it smashed the previous W60 world record of 2:56:54, which she set in 2019.

Not only is this a world record for Yugeta, but it’s also a personal best. That’s right — she’s 62 years old and beating times she set years ago. Since joining the W60 age group, Yugeta has broken the marathon world record three times. Her first record run came in November 2019, when she became the first W60 runner to break three hours in the marathon. She ran 2:59:15 at the Shimonoseki Kaikyo Marathon in Japan, shattering the previous world record of 3:02:50 that France’s Claudine Marchadier set in 2007.

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Yugeta’s next record-breaking run came just one month after her initial sub-three-hour result, this time at Japan’s Saitama International Marathon. Despite having run a marathon weeks earlier, she managed to lower her own record even more, finishing in 18th place in 2:56:54. She failed to break her record in 2020, but she did post another sub-three-hour result, running the Osaka Women’s Marathon in 2:59:23. Finally, Yugeta ran her current PB of 2:52:13 on Sunday, but she isn’t satisfied just yet.

As reported by Japan Running News (JRN), Yugeta is registered for the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, which is set for March 14, and she says she will be looking to run even quicker than she did in Osaka. “I want to keep my legs in perfect condition and go for 2:50 or 2:51,” she said.

This might seem too ambitious, but as the JRN article notes, Yugeta struggled in the final weeks of her build to the Osaka Women’s marathon. She reportedly dealt with fatigue (which is understandable, as she runs incredibly high mileage, hitting 800K per month in the summers) and pain in her glutes. Fortunately, she was able to remedy this discomfort through acupuncture treatments, and she said her run in Osaka was pain-free.

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Still, even though she felt fine on race day doesn’t mean the ghosts of those nagging issues weren’t affecting her. With those problems behind her, she could have a better build ahead of the Nagoya Women’s Marathon, which could mean the W60 world record will be lowered once again.