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Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon



After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a long uphill at 29 km she lost contact. Habtegebrel surged at 30 km to open a 10 m lead on Daniel and Daba, but they soon regained contact. Near 35 km Daniel went to the front for the first time, putting Daba out of contention.

From there to the finish it was a battle on an incremental scale, both runners launching brief attacks and alternating the lead, the face of each betraying patches good and bad. Habtegebrel looked the stronger in the last km, but with just over 200 m to go Daniel dropped the kick that gave her the win, opening 3 seconds over her Ethiopian-born rival. Daba hung on for 3rd in 2:30:06.

Further back, Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain), an early casualty of Iwade's aggressive pacing, came back to run her down, passing her at 38 km and opening more than 30 seconds over the last 4 km to take 4th in 2:30:34. Iwade was 7 minutes off her best and over 2 minutes short of the 2:29:00 qualifying standard, taking 5th in 2:31:11. It was a disappointing result for the JAAF, who hoped to have the talented young Iwade's name added to the early list of trials qualifiers. All told the windy conditions made for slower than expected times, 10th-placer Shiori Shimomura (Comody Iida) the only woman in the top 10 to PB at 2:43:51.

Starting 30 minutes after the elite women, the mass-participation field saw local hero and race ambassador Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) line up a week after running 2:15:02 at the Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes Nice-Cannes in France, just the second time in his career that he has tackled back-to-back marathons. With the 2:18:50 course record well within his sights Kawauchi hoped to run 2:13 to 2:15 and break into the elite women's top ten.

An over-enthusiastic start took him through 5 km on high-2:08 pace, and from there to the finish Kawauchi ran almost every 5 km slower than the one before. Just past 40 km he passed 12th-place woman Yoshida, and with a kick he crossed the finish almost three minutes under the course record in 2:15:54. His 75th marathon, Kawauchi's result was the 60th sub-2:16 of his career and put him just two races away from American Doug Kurtis' sub-2:20 career record, a mark he hopes to tie at next month's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and break at January's Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A.

In the general division women's race another serial racing local also took the top spot. Just nine days after winning the Gunma Marathon in a 2:40:59 PB and course record, 24-year-old amateur Tomomi Sawahata (Sawahatters) won the general division in 2:41:30, a time that would have put her 10th in the elite division. With both races having had just three runnings it was Sawahata's third year in a row doing the Gunma-Saitama double, all wins and all but one in low-2:40-range times. A sub-2:40 would put her at the very top of Japan's amateur list and normally a woman that level would run in the JAAF-registered division at races, but Sawahata appears to be steadfast in remaining in the general division in every race that she runs. Chalk her up as another unique individualist out of Saitama prefecture.

3rd Saitama International Marathon

Saitama, 11/12/17

Women
1. Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) - 2:28:39*
2. Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) - 2:28:42*
3. Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) - 2:30:06
4. Charlotte Purdue (Great Britain) - 2:30:34
5. Reia Iwade (Japan/Dome) - 2:31:11
6. Philes Ongori (Kenya) - 2:32:01
7. Sinead Diver (Australia) - 2:33:01
8. Monika Stefanowicz (Poland) - 2:38:31
9. Mayumi Uchiyama (Japan/Nitori) - 2:41:28
10. Shiori Shimomura (Japan/Comody Iida) - 2:43:51 - PB
11. Alice Mason (New Zealand) - 2:44:05 - PB
12. Kaori Yoshida (Japan/RxL) - 2:46:50

*The times run by Daniel and Habtegebrel were later annulled due to the incident on the last corner.

Men
1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:15:54 - CR

General Division Women
1. Tomomi Sawahata (Sawahatters) - 2:41:30

Kawauchi photo by Ekiden Mania, © 2017 Kazuyuki Sugimatsu, all rights reserved
text © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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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…