translated by Brett Larner
Naoko Takahashi (36, Team Phiten), training at high altitude in Boulder, Colorado since May, won three races in the U.S.A. during the summer and early fall including the Mt. Evans mountain race and the Boulder Marathon. At her last race in Japan, March's Nagoya International Women's Marathon, Takahashi suffered problems with her right knee and finished 27th. Her success in the American races represents a big step up in her planned competition in this season's big three marathons, the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya International Women's marathons.
Arriving in Boulder on May 31, Takahashi ran the Mt. Evans mountain race on June 21. The race begins at Echo Lake at an elevation of 3231 m, climbing 1117 m over the course of 23.3 km to peak at 4348 m, making it the highest-elevation race in the U.S. The goal point at the mountain's peak is higher than the clouds, and higher than the 3776 m Mt. Fuji. Takahashi was 12th overall, winning the women's race. Her time of 2:06:22 broke the 18-year old course record by one minute.
On Sept. 21 Takahashi ran the Boulder Marathon as a comfortable training run over the race's challenging, hilly course which peaks at elevation 1800 m. Takahashi was 9th overall, again the women's winner and beating the 2nd place finisher by ten minutes. Besides these two races Takahashi also won a half marathon, making for three victories in three races during her training period.
Takahashi ran March's Nagoya International Women's Marathon in a bid for the Beijing Olympic team but finished 27th. In August last year she had surgery on her right knee, meaning that the Olympic selection race was an unrehearsed single chance situation. This time she wants to come to the selection races having honed her racing. Speaking from America, Takahashi commented, "There are a lot of races nearby [our training camp], so I can get some practice competing while I train."
If Takahashi wins the Nov. 16 Tokyo International Women's Marathon, she will be selected for the 2009 World Track and Field Championships. Takahashi also plans to try for the team at the Jan. 25 Osaka International Women's Marathon and the Mar. 8 Nagoya International Women's Marathon. Three races in four months will require incredible stamina, so Takahashi will be in full training until the first race. She plans to return to Japan in early Nov. and will carry our her final preparations in Tokyo.