OITA (Kyodo) -- Kentaro Nakamoto claimed his first marathon victory, winning Sunday's Beppu-Oita Marathon in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 32 seconds.
The 34-year-old went head to head with Ethiopian Dereje Debele (2:10:23) after 35 kilometers, and pulled away near the 39-km mark in a race that doubled as a qualifier for Japan's team to August's world championships in London.
"Winning was my target so I'm genuinely happy," said Nakamoto, who was sixth at the 2012 London Olympics. "I didn't know winning a race feels this nice."
"This is a race I do well in, and I also wanted to bounce back after struggling lately."
Japan's Ryo Kiname was third.