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A Profile of Local Boy Beppu-Oita Winner Tomoya Adachi

translated by Brett Larner

Nothing is sweeter than a hometown win! At the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon on Feb. 3, Tomoya Adachi (22, Team Asahi Kasei) of Oita was the first runner back to the Oita Civic Track, winning his debut marathon in a time of 2:11:59. Moving up from the chase pack as an individual entrant rather than as one of the invited elites, Adachi overtook leader Elijah Mutai (Kenya) just before the 39 km point, maintaining the lead unchallenged all the way to the goal line. Yoichi Watanabe (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) was 6th in 2:15:17 and Tomokazu Sakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) was 9th in 2:17:00. Running in his team's last event before it is disbanded later this year, Tokio Yamazaki of Team Toshiba LSI finished well in 10th place. Mutai dropped out of the race at the 40 km point. Conditions at the start were 10.5 degrees and 68% humidity, with 1.5 m/s NW winds.

After breaking the goal tape, Adachi crossed the line with his arms halfheartedly raised partway in the air. He looked charmingly inexperienced. "I wanted to do something a bit more flamboyant, but I was so tired I could barely finish. I'm really happy just to have reached the goal," the previously unknown 22 year-old runner laughed, scratching his head in embarassment.

Adachi's persistence in the race paid off. He ran in the chase pack behind Mutai with Daniel Mwangi (Team JAL Ground Service) and Masahiko Takeyasu (Team Chudenko) until the 35 km point, looking for a chance to come from behind. "I stayed comfortable until the 35 km. Looking around me at that point I thought it looked pretty tough, and I realized that if I didn't go after the leader right then I wouldn't be able to catch him." Finding another gear, Adachi increased his pace to go after Mutai, catching him just before 39 km and feeling the thrill of taking the lead.

It was a moment he had dreamed about. Adachi first went out to cheer the Beppu-Oita runners with his father Kazuyoshi when he was in the 6th grade. Every year until he graduated from high school he watched the race courseside, always dreaming of running it some day. Last year in November he finally made the decision to run the race he loved. "I can't tell you how great it feels to have won the race I've always wanted to run." Adachi credits his hometown friends, family and fans with giving him the energy along the course to keep moving toward the lead.

Adachi's win was a revival of Team Asahi Kasei's somewhat tarnished history. Adachi's team Asahi Kasei was 27th in this year's New Year Ekiden, the worst in its history, and the team has lately felt like there was no way to recover its past strength. No Team Asahi Kasei runner had won Betsudai since Kazutaka Enoki's victory in 2000. Adachi broke the slump, becoming the 10th Asahi Kasei runner to claim the title. Asahi Kasei head coach Takeshi So was pleased. "He's never been an athlete who really put himself into his running, so this win was big. I hope that will change now. I hope this win will help revive the image of 'Team Asahi Kasei = Marathon.'"

Having broken through the barriers, the way before Adachi is now open. He has a chance to step up to be one of the leaders of his team and to take his own running to the next level. "The next podium I want to be standing on is the world's." Looking straight ahead at the road before him, Adachi's face is full of confidence.

Translator's note: I'm not sure why this article was published in the baseball section of the newspaper's website. Television commentators on race day mentioned that Adachi has the reputation of being something of a running geek, extremely knowledgeable about many runners worldwide and keeping detailed track of their performances.


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