Highlights from the Fukuoka International Marathon held on Dec. 3 show Norway's Sondre Nordstad Moen winning while Japan's Suguru Osako finishes third. Osako talks about the race at a news conference afterward. (The Asahi Shimbun)

FUKUOKA--Long-distance track star Suguru Osako finished third in the Fukuoka International Marathon on Dec. 3, posting the fifth-best time ever by a Japanese runner.

The results were a rare bright spot for Japanese marathoners who have struggled in recent years to win medals at the Olympics and world championships.

Osako, 26, improved on his personal best by more than three minutes and completed the marathon in a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes, 19 seconds.

The winner was Sondre Nordstad Moen of Norway who set a European record with a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 48 seconds. Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich finished second.

Osako, who was running in his first marathon in Japan, showed promise in finishing third at the Boston Marathon in April.

"I was able to expend all of my power," Osako said after the Fukuoka race. "It was a good experience that will help me for future races."

With his finish, Osako qualifies for the marathon grand championship (MGC), which will determine who represents Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Two other relatively unknown Japanese runners also qualified for the MGC. Daisuke Uekado finished sixth and Yoshiki Takenouchi was one place behind in seventh, high enough to place the two runners among the qualifying field that will not be completed until spring 2019.