translated by Brett Larner
In Kagoshima live two runners with a big dream. The identical twin Ichida brothers Takashi and Hiroshi are 3rd year students at Yoshino Junior High School where they are members of the school's track team. In the 3000 m at last year's All-Japan Junior High School Championships the brothers finished 1-2; they are already dreaming about when they move up to the world level. "We want to run the Olympic Marathon together."
The brothers were selected for the Kagoshima prefectural team for this past Sunday's 13th All-Japan Men's Interprefectural Ekiden in Hiroshima. Takashi ran the 2nd leg where he passed 14 runners and took the 2nd fastest time on the stage. Before running the 6th stage, Hiroshi said, "I'm going to get revenge for Takashi [not getting the stage best time]." He followed through on his promise, setting the stage best mark. Quite impressive considering that the brothers have only been running for two years. The twins were members of their school's soccer team as 1st year students, but when they ran in a school ekiden and took the top spots on their individual stages they decided to switch to the track team.
Both brothers weigh 46 kg, but Takashi is 161 cm tall and Hiroshi 160 cm. In races Takashi is an aggressive 1st half type, while Hiroshi tends to run the 2nd half faster. In the last year Takashi improved his 3000 m PB by 30 seconds while Hiroshi took 50 seconds from his PB. At last summer's All-Japan Junior High School Championships, the win wasn't decided until the last 500 m when the brothers spurted away together. The margin between the two at the finish tape was only 0.04 seconds. "We are each other's biggest rivals, but we always run together."
This spring the Ichida brothers will enter a high school in Kagoshima with a well-known ekiden team. In coming years they are sure to be seen handing off the tasuki to one another.
Translator's note: Japan has a long tradition of strong pairs of identical twin distance runners, including the legendary Soh brothers, Team Konica Minolta's Matsumiya brothers, Team Toyota Shatai's Ominami sisters, and Toyo University's Onishi brothers.