translated by Brett Larner
Former Japanese men's marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita (32, Team Fujitsu) is on the road to a rebirth after finding a new style in his running. Fujita set the former national record of 2:06:51 at the 2000 Fukuoka International Marathon, but he has never been able to meet his goals since. "I set that record just running on momentum and energy," says Fujita. "Next time I want to do it by precise calculation." His first step on his new road will be at March's Tokyo Marathon.
A 2:06 marathon is 3 minutes per km. Last year Fujita focused on his track speed, running a new 5000 m PB of 13:54.65 and his fastest 10000 m since 2000. In the New Year Ekiden he ran the 3rd-fastest time on the 4th stage to lead Team Fujitsu to its first victory in 9 years. Fujita reflects, "The last few years I lost some of my speed. I had to work hard to run 3 minute pace." As the years piled up, Fujita began to feel that it was getting harder to maintain his legs' strength only through running, leading him to begin training on exercise machines. "Now," he says, "it just feels like I'm floating. I'm making up for what I'm losing with age through efficiency and experience."
At the 2007 Fukuoka International Marathon Fujita was 8th, missing his chance to make the Beijing Olympic team and leading him to stop training with his alma mater Komazawa University in April and return to Fujitsu's training grounds in Chiba after a four-year absence. Leaving his solitary life behind to live in the company dormitories, Fujita says, "Meals are really lively and a good time. I've always been on my own before this so I never had a chance to see this kind of lifestyle. My perspective's broadened a bit and it's helped me to feel more comfortable about my life in athletics." With fewer wrinkles in his forehead and a noticeably brighter disposition, this veteran has found a new love of his trade as he moves on toward his next goal.
*Translator's note: Atsushi Fujita still holds the fastest 35-40 km and 40-42.195 km splits on the Fukuoka course from his 2:06:51 national record run in 2000, faster than the Fukuoka splits of world record holder Haile Gebrselassie, Beijing Olympics marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru, silver medalist Jaouad Gharib, bronze medalist Tsegaye Kebede and 4th placer Deriba Merga. A comparison of their marks:
35-40 km: 14:44 40-42.195 km: 6:23 finish time: 2:06:51
35-40 km: 14:47 40-42.195 km: 6:25 finish time: 2:06:10
35-40 km: 14:50 40-42.195 km: 6:32 finish time: 2:06:52
35-40 km: 15:14 40-42.195 km: 6:36 finish time: 2:06:39
35-40 km: 15:13 40-42.195 km: 6:47 finish time: 2:06:50
35-40 km: 14:56 40-42.195 km: 6:53 finish time: 2:07:19