Marcel Hug returned to form in spectacular fashion in the rain of Tokyo as he dominated the fourth race of Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XII to come roaring back into contention for the title.
The man they call the Silver Bullet has played second fiddle to series leader Daniel Romanchuk in the last two races, and was second behind Canada’s Brent Lakatos in the series opener in Berlin.
But he was not to be denied today in conditions he is famed for excelling in. Hug, Romanchuk and South African powerhouse Ernst van Dyk were together in the early stages of the race but it was not long before the Swiss star began to test his rivals’ abilities to hang with him.
Hug’s superior grip saw him steal an advantage in the gradients of the first half of the race, and the chasing pair were soon little more than specks in his rearview mirror.
Hug was also the fastest racer through Tokyo’s 1.3-kilometre bonus point segment to plunder an extra eight series points added to his 25 for the win to cut Romanchuk’s lead to two with three races to go.
It was not all gloom and doom for the 20-year-old American, who clung on for second place and also received the AbbottWMM Six Star Medal having completed the full set of six Majors.
Manuela Schär underlined her seemingly unstoppable form by claiming her fourth consecutive win of Series XII.
Schär suffered in similar conditions to this in Boston in 2018, but today the rain could not deter her from grabbing both the win and the bonus points.
She has an eye-watering 76-point lead at the top of the standings, which means she could effectively sit at home watching the next two races with her feet up and still be in the lead at the end of April.
Instead, she will plough on to Boston and London in April in a bid not only to put the series out of reach, but also to seek the title of world champion in London, where the Virgin Money London marathon will double as the IPC World Championship.
Schär was already a few chair lengths ahead of the American pair as they made the turn to tackle the bonus point section, and she eventually broke the tape almost two minutes ahead of Tatyana McFadden, who took second place ahead of her Illinois stablemate Susannah Scaroni.
Fourth-placed Margriet van den Broek enjoyed the added satisfaction of becoming a Six Star Finisher alongside Romanchuk.