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Kawauchi Takes Almost 7 Minutes Off Ehime Marathon Course Record With 2:09:54 Win, Matsuo Defends in Nobeoka



by Brett Larner


In his first marathon of 2017 and the last one he will run before turning 30 Yuki  Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) made history as he won the 55th edition of the Ehime Marathon in 2:09:54, taking almost seven minutes off Ehime's 2:16:49 CR set in 1965.

Saying pre-race that he thought he was in shape to run 2:13, Kawauchi split 15:11 for the first 5 km off a slow opening km, 2:08:08 pace.  Unexpectedly, he got company from Waseda University fourth-year and Ehime native Yohei Suzuki, a 1:02:16 half marathoner making his marathon debut before graduating next month.  Kawauchi responded by upping the pace to 15:08 through the next 5 km, putting the pair on track for 2:07:55 at 10 km and holding on to sub-2:09 pace through 25 km.  Suzuki lost touch near 20 km, hitting halfway in 1:04:30 to Kawauchi's 1:04:18, and from there it was a completely solo run to the end for both, with no pacers and no other competition in sight.

Ever since his solo 2:10:14 at the 2014 Kumamoto Castle Marathon Kawauchi has thought that he could solo a sub-2:10 if everything went right.  Following Suzuki's departure and now completely on his own Kawauchi's splits and projected finishing time continued to slow, going to 2:09:13 at 30 km, 2:09:48 at 35 km and ticking over to 2:10:01 at 40 km.  But with his characteristic finishing speed he had the sub-2:10 in hand, breaking the tape and a course record that had stood since the year his mother was born.  His win marked the eleventh time in his career that he has gone under 2:10, something an elite group of fifteen men and only three non-African athletes, Olympic medalists Stefano Baldini (Italy) and Lee Bong Ju (South Korea), and now Kawauchi, have ever achieved.

With a resonant run in Fukuoka last December for 3rd in 2:09:11 Kawauchi was already in contention for the London World Championships team.  Last weekend Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) won the second selection race, the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, in 2:09:32.  Kawauchi's time in Ehime was 22 seconds slower, but having come in an amateur-level mass participation race without the amentities of Japan's elite marathon circuit, no pacers, no special drinks, no real competition, just one man and the road, it surely stands on equal footing even if it doesn't count in official selection.


After losing touch with Kawauchi Suzuki faded over the second half, but spurred on by his hometown crowds, which race announcers estimated at three times the usual size, he pushed on alone through the second-half darkness that comes in an overpaced marathon debut.  Raising his fist in the air as he came to the finish line he took 2nd in 2:14:56, almost two minutes under the 52-year-old course record.  A loss to an athlete of Kawauchi's ability was no shame, and you can only hope that Suzuki takes the pride and satisfaction he should in his run.

Behind him, Komazawa University rival Yoshiki Nakamura took 3rd in a 2:18:37 debut, a time good enough to win most years in Ehime.  Amateur club runners Takehiko Gyoba and Takemaru Yamazaki both ran PBs for 4th and 5th, Gyoba getting under the 2:20 mark and Yamazaki just missing it. Kana Orino (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) ran down Anna Matsuda of local 2016 National University Women's Ekiden champion Matsuyama University to win the women's race in 2:42:36.


Also celebrating its 55th anniversary edition, the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon saw its first back-to-back champion in over 30 years.  With Rio Olympics marathoner Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) providing pacing, a lead group of five including the debuting trio of Shota Hattori (Team Honda), Yuichi Okutani (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Toshiki Sadakata (Team MHPS), Yosuke Chida (Team Hitachi Butsuryu) and defending champion Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) went through halfway in 1:04:51, well under the 2:11:05 course record pace.

When Sasaki stepped off at 25 km it was down to Hattori, Okutani and Matsuo, and Hattori was quick to take over.  At 30 km he was 9 seconds ahead of Okutani and 38 seconds up on Matuso.  At 35 km Okutani had come back to within 3 seconds with Matsuo falling to 50 seconds behind.  But things can change quickly in a marathon.  Hattori abruptly stalled just as Matsuo began to attack, and by 40 km Matsuo had overtaken him for second.  Just over a kilometer later he overtook Okutani to go into the lead, widening the gap all the way to the finish.  Matsuo won in 2:13:36, the first back-to-back Nobeoka winner since Chiaki Harumatsu in 1985-86.  Hattori retook Okutani for 2nd in 2:14:19, Okutani 6 seconds back in 2:14:25, both reasonably successful debut times just ahead of Suzuki's performance in Ehime.  Club runner Noriko Sato (First Dream AC) won the women's race in 2:51:11.

55th Ehime Marathon
Matsuyama, Ehime, 2/12/17

Men
1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:09:54 - CR
2. Yohei Suzuki (Waseda Univ.) - 2:14:56 - debut (CR)
3. Yoshiki Nakamura (Komazawa Univ.) - 2:18:37 - debut
4. Takehiko Gyoba (unattached) - 2:19:12 - PB
5. Takemaru Yamazaki (unattached) - 2:20:30 - PB

Women
1. Kana Orino (Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) - 2:42:36
2. Anna Matsuda (Matsuyama Univ.) - 2:45:04

55th Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon
Nobeoka, Miyazaki, 2/12/17
click here for complete results

Men
1. Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:13:36
2. Shota Hattori (Honda) - 2:14:19 - debut
3. Yuichi Okutani (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:14:25 - debut
4. Yosuke Chida (Hitachi Butsuryu) - 2:15:10 - PB
5. Kenta Otani (JFE Steel) - 2:18:06

Women
1. Noriko Sato (First Dream AC) - 2:51:11

© 2017 Brett Larner
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The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume

Known as the Civil Servant Runner, Saitama Prefectural Government employee Yuki Kawauchi's career record of 78 sub-2:20 marathons was officially recognized as the Guinness World Record at a ceremony in his hometown of Kuki, Saitama on Mar. 25.  Raised in Kuki, Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government after graduating from university. Running while working full-time as a civil servant, he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trial race.

Earlier this month on the 18th Kawauchi ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon, winning in 2:14:12. His 78th time running faster than 2 hours and 20 minutes, his achievement was certified as the official Guinness World Record. He actually broke the previous record on Jan. 1 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A. with his 76th sub-2:20 but followed up with two performances, one in February and the other last week, before Guinness could ratify the record.

The official recognition ceremony took place Mar. 2…

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…