Interview by Japan Running News (Brett Larner)
If Australian Jeff Hunt hadn’t been in Sunday’s Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon the results would not have been especially surprising or noteworthy. Kenyan Jonathan Kipkorir, the only man in the field to break 2:08 in 2009, outkicked Kenyan veteran Daniel Njenga, the only one with a 2:06 PB, for the win in 2:10:50, with relatively unknown Japanese first-timer Atsushi Ikawa running a gutsy race up front to finish close behind in 2:11:04. On the surface Hunt’s 2:11:00 3rd place mark may not appear to add much to the equation, but what made him the defining element of this year’s Beppu-Oita was the way he ran the race. Until 30 km Hunt sat far back in the second pack over a minute behind the leaders. By 40 km he was head to head with Kipkorir and Njenga for the win. It was a dramatic, gripping performance which showed that even in the 2:04-2:05 era a slower race can still be exciting.