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Team Chugoku Denryoku's Umeki 'Running for Beijing' in Tokyo Marathon

translated by Brett Larner

The invited domestic elites who will try for a spot on the Beijing Olympic team at this year's Tokyo Marathon assembled in Tokyo for a press conference on Feb. 15. Among the well-known runners is Kurao Umeki of Team Chugoku Denryoku. "First of all," commented Umeki, "I want to run strong. The ticket to Beijing is going to be settled in the 2nd half of this race."

Umeki has worked hard this season, running the Berlin Marathon in September, the Nagoya Half Marathon in November, and the New Year Ekiden and Yamaguchi Ekiden in January, along with training camps in Okinawa and Kunming, China. "I've done a lot of long, slow, careful preparation," Umeki said with confidence. "I'll be coming to the start line well-prepared."

At age 32, Umeki has run 14 marathons and is one of the veterans in the domestic field. He holds a PB of 2:09:52, but the fastest of his domestic marathons was only 2:14:50. "A fast time in a domestic race means more. I'll be relaxed but looking for it this time."

Athens Olympics marathoner Toshinari Suwa (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and Helsinki World Championships marathon entrant Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) also weighed in with their hopes for Tokyo. "I will run a fast race," predicted Suwa. Irifune, who was 3rd in last year's inaugural Tokyo Marathon, commented, "I will be aiming to race the hilly section after 35 km. I'm only thinking about the win."


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