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Japanese runners dominate Soochow int'l ultra-marathon

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Japanese runners yesterday won both the men's and women's titles at the annual Soochow International Ultra-Marathon (東吳國際超級馬拉松) 24-hour race in Taipei.

Yoshikazu Hara ran a total of 273.6 kilometers — 684 laps of the course — over 24 hours to win the men's division in the competition, while his compatriot Mami Kudo outran all of her competitors to win the women's division with a 210.9 km distance, or 527 laps, according to the event's official website.

Taiwan's Tsou Shaung-hsi (鄒雙喜) finished No. 5 in the non-stop race with 590 laps in the men's category, and local female runner Chia Lu-hsin (賈魯歆) claimed third place in the women's division with a distance of 197 km.

Defending champion Ryoichi Sekiya of Japan, who had previously claimed seven-straight No. 1 titles in the annual run, finished with a disappointing 174 km, coming in at No. 30.

Commenting on his first championship title in the race, Hara said yesterday that the race was difficult because there were no breaks and runners had to endure heat during the day and cold at night.

The 49-year-old Kudo, who won her fourth-straight title in the race, said the just-concluded event was the most challenging yet, but also the most rewarding marathon she had ever participated in.

“I wanted to give up so many times during the run but thanks to the cheers and support given by the spectators, I was finally able to finish the challenge,” she said.

Forty-two participants from 11 countries around the world joined the race held at the athletics track at Taipei's Soochow University.

The race kicked off at 9 a.m. Saturday and concluded at 9 a.m. yesterday. A total of 37 runners finished the grueling 24-hour race.

The race, first launched in 1999 and certified by the International Association of Ultra Runners, is the only ultra-marathon regularly held in Taiwan.

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