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Kawauchi Ties Sub-2:20 World Record, Kato Crushes Course Record In Hofu Yomiuri Marathon Wins

Two weeks to the day after running 2:10:53 at the Fukuoka International Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) wrapped his 2017 with a win, running one of the few negative splits of his career to win the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon for the third time in 2:10:03. Women's winner Misako Kato (Kyudenko), a 1:09:49 half marathon, soloed an almost perfectly paced 2:28:12 to take 3 minutes off her PB and 7 1/2 minutes off the course record. Further back, Rio Paralympics T12 marathon silver medalist Misato Michishita broke the own world record in her category with a time of 2:56:14.

Watch a complete replay of the race here.


Pacers Taiga Ito and Melaku Abera, both of whom ran Fukuoka alongside Kawauchi, were tasked with taking the field out in 3:06/km, 2:10:48 pace. Pre-race Kawauchi told JRN, "If they'd run 3:04 I ccoul definitely, 100%, go faster than I did in Fukuoka. In cold and windy conditions things went in his favor in the early going with 5 and 10 km splits of 15:19 and 30:44. Uncharacteristically wearing sunglasses, Kawauchi was right on the pacers the whole way. On his shoulders, fellow civil servant runner Tatsunori Hamasaki (Nanjo City Hall) with a 2:12:12 best from his earlier career in the corporate leagues, and Tadashi Isshiki (GMO), a former National University Half Marathon champion who debuted in 2:11:45 his junior year at three-time Hakone Ekiden champ Aoyama Gakuin University.


Past 10 km the pace slowed to the planned 3:06/km, hitting halfway on track to the second in 1:05:24. The ranks thinned from nearly 20 to 10 by the time Abera stepped off at 30 km, and Kawauchi wasted no time in culling them further. Surging ahead he immediately dropped all but Hamasaki, Isshiki and Isshiki's debuting teammate Shohei Kurata (GMO). In his 76 marathons to date Kawauchi had never looked as calm and in control so late in the race, and he remained unfazed as Hamasaki went by to take the lead. Hamasaki's move was short lived but enough to get rid of Kurata and make it a three-way race with 10 km to go, two civil servants who ran the Hakone Ekiden as lowly members of the Kanto Region Select Team against a Hakone star corporate leaguer.

Was there a hint of team tactics? Maybe. When Hamasaki's momentum stalled Kawauchi went by him, and, just as Isshiki looked like he was starting to struggle with the faster pace, Hamasaki attacked again. Isshiki let go, and it was down to the outsider pair up front. There wasn't much question about the outcome. Taking advantage of a short hill near 33.5 km Kawauchi got down to business, dropping his pace down to 3:00~01/km and saying goodbye to Hamasaki.

From a 2:10:48 at halfway his projected finish time got closer and closer to a sub-2:10, Kawauchi staying calm, focused and strong, with none of his usual late-race grimacing. From 35 km to 40 km he split 15:04, one of the fastest splits in his career at that point in the race, and putting him right on the cusp of going under 2:10 for the 13th time. Coming onto the track for a final lap to the finish line he bore down with everything he had, stopping the clock in 2:10:03 but showing no disappointment post-race, only elation at the win and animation in his compliments to his competitors. In doing so he became the fifth man to qualify for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic Trials marathon, the first to get in through the two-race average wildcard qualification. Post-race he earned praise from no less than Olympic silver medalist Paul Tanui (Kenya):


In his fourth marathon in the last six weeks Kawauchi's run was his 20th time going under 2:11, putting him one race away from tying Ethiopian great Tsegaye Kebede's record of 21. His 75th time breaking 2:20, it also tied the record held by American Doug Kurtis, a longtime goal of Kawauchi's. Kurtis is often credited with 76 sub-2:20s, but according to the list of his results in the ARRS database he achieved sub-2:20 marks 75 times, with a 76th race clocked officially at 2:20:00. Kurtis did not respond to requests for clarification of the apparent discrepancy, leaving his verifiable record of 75 equalled today. Considering that Kawauchi's fastest 50 km race was run at 2:18:30 marathon pace, it's safe to say Kurtis' mark was equalled either way. Kawauchi will seek to better it in two weeks at the Jan. 1 Marshfield New Year 's Day Marathon in Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Hamasaki gutted out the final kilometers alone and was rewarded with a 2:11:26 PB, his first time clearing IAAF silver label status. Maybe the biggest surprise of the day wasn't far behind him. With Isshiki expected to take 3rd, crowds at the stadium were surprised to see 28-year-old amateur club runner Asuka Tanaka (Yutori Running Club) hit the track after Hamasaki. Tanaka debuted at February's Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon in 2:20:44, going on to win November's mass-participation Fukuoka Marathon in 2:20:05. Here he dropped an almost 8-minute PB of 2:12:17 for 3rd, easily jumping to the top tier of non-corporate league runners in Japan.

The next three runners all cleared 2:13 in new PBs, Kurata overtaking Isshiki for 7th in a quality 2:13:16 debut. The fast times extended deep into the field, 728 runners total, 710 men and 18 women, breaking 3 hours in a field of just over 2000. With Hofu taking place just two weeks before the New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships it rarely sees top-level corporate league men line up, but even so the quality of the runs by the non-corporate league men who took the top five spots, the success of people doing what they want to do because it's what they like doing, was a welcome high note on which to end a year that was both encouraging and discouraging for the future of Japanese men's distance running.

48th Hofu Yomiuri Marathon

Hofu, Yamaguchi, 12/17/17
click here for complete results

Women
1. Misaki Kato (Kyudenko) - 2:28:12 - CR, PB
2. Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) - 2:39:56
3. Noriko Sato (First Dream AC) - 2:46:59

Men
1. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 2:10:03
2. Tatsunori Hamasaki (Nanjo City Hall) - 2:11:26 - PB
3. Asuka Tanaka (Yutori Running Club) - 2:12:17 - PB
4. Shinichi Yamashita (Takigahara SDF Base) - 2:12:32 - PB
5. Yasuyuki Nakamura (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) - 2:12:36 - PB
6. Shogo Kanezane (Chugoku Denryoku) - 2:12:58 - PB
7. Shohei Kurata (GMO) - 2:13:16 - debut
8. Tadashi Isshiki (GMO) - 2:15:43
9. Boniface Kirui (Kenya) - 2:18:30
10. Yuki Yagi (Yagi Running Team) - 2:18:41 - PB

start and 19 km photos by Akko, © 2017, all rights reserved
other photos by M. Kawaguchi, © 2017, all rights reserved
text © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Metts said…
Always amazed at the amateur depth and quality in Japan. I think most of the big marathons are around 2% of the total field which are sub 3. This one around 36%. I know its apples and oranges, because of the emphasis on high quality running in Japan, but there were only around 575 sub 3's in all, in my present country of residence in 2016.

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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…