BOSTON – Suguru Osako finished third in the men’s race at the Boston Marathon on Monday, becoming the first Japanese man in 30 years to secure a podium finish in the world’s oldest annual marathon.
Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya won the 121st running of the 42.195-km race in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 37 seconds, while American Galen Rupp crossed the finish line in 2:09:58 for second place. Osako posted a time of 2:10.28 in his marathon debut.
Toshihiko Seko, winner of the Boston Marathon in 1987, was the last Japanese man to finish among the top three.
“It was my first marathon and I was nervous but I tried to run my own race,” said the 25-year-old Osako, who has never run more than 35 km in training. “I’ve never experienced a race so tough. It’s a different kind of challenge from track races with the ups and downs, and I started getting leg cramps after the 40-km mark.
“I think I was able to stay calm throughout the race.
Osako, a native of Tokyo currently based in Oregon, won the men’s 5,000- and 10,000- meter races at Japan’s national championships in June and went on to compete in both events at the Rio Olympics.
Holder of the national record in the 5,000, Osako maintained his position behind the leading pack in the first half of the race and moved into third around the 34-km point. The Boston Marathon route runs from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, to Copley Square in Boston.
“My coach and I were hoping I’d finish around fifth. I’m really happy (to be named alongside Seko) because he and I are both graduates of Waseda University,” Osako said.
“I got off to good start (in my marathon career) and I have a positive image from my first-ever marathon race,” he said, adding that he has yet to discuss with his coach whether to compete in more marathon races.
In the women’s race, Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat won with a time of 2:21:52.
In the wheelchair division, Hiroyuki Yamamoto placed third in 1:19:32. The 50-year-old Yamamoto won the Boston Marathon wheelchair division in 2013, when double bombings near the finish line killed three spectators and injured more than 200 people.
“The Boston Marathon has continued despite the terrorist attack, which is why I’m able to continue taking up the challenge,” said Yamamoto.