Skip to main content

The Man in the Wig Speaks

translated and edited by Brett Larner




Osaka-based amateur runner Nobuaki Takata (32, Hirakata Masters AC) came to national attention on Mar. 22 when he ran the Tokyo Marathon wearing a comedy wig featuring an oversized forehead and eyebrows and curly black hair. And he ran well. Qualified for Tokyo's elite division after running 2:19:31 at December's Fukuoka International Marathon, Takata came to the race having finished 9th at the Feb. 7 Hong Kong Marathon in 2:23:31 and having won the Mar. 1 Sasayama Marathon in 2:20:59. He ran with the lead pack for the first 5 km before relaxing his pace, eventually finishing next to women's winner Mizuho Nasukawa (Team Aruze) in 2:25:38.

Takata returned home to find himself a sensation. His entertaining blog How to Run a Marathon Under 2:20 - Jogging is All You Need went from 92 hits the day before the race to over 100,000 hits the next. On Mar. 25 Takata added his account of his run, translated below along with some earlier blog entries and photos and video from the Tokyo Marathon.

Mar. 17 - Massage Machine
My legs are really heavy today, so I guess I'm working harder than I thought. On days like this I get out my leg massage machine and pretty soon my legs are feeling right. I have another problem, though. I can't concentrate at work because I can't stop thinking about the Tokyo Marathon.....

Should I run wearing the wig?

The Tokyo Marathon is supposed to be a big festival so the wig would fit right in, but I'm not going to do it. I'm entered in the elite division and the race organizers probably wouldn't be happy about it since they picked me. If I was running in the general division I'd definitely do it with the wig. But wait, what's that?

Wig: "Please take me!! Wear me in Tokyo!!"
Me: "Sorry. Not this time."
Wig: "It's been SIX YEARS since you wore me for the Kyoto Half!! Come on!!"
Me: "Maybe in the Hokkaido Marathon."
Wig: "No, wait, don't put me back in the closet!! Nooooo......."

Mar. 21 - One Day Until X-Day
It's the day before X-Day. A week ago I made a reservation at a 'traditional(?) B&B' and I just got there. It's pretty much the way the guests' comments on the website said it was. Reminds me of when I was a student.....

When I was putting away my stuff I had a big surprise when I opened one of my bags.

Me: "What the.....What are YOU doing here?!?!"
Wig: "Hahaha, here I am!!"
Me: "But I told you you couldn't come!!"
Wig: "Please!! Let's run the Tokyo Marathon together!! I'm begging you!!"
Me: "If we run here together it'll be the last time!!"
Wig: "I don't care. Please!!"
Me: "You're that serious, huh? Well....."

So, it's settled. I'm running with the wig.

Mar. 22 - X-Day
X-Day is here.

It's 5 minutes before the start and we're lining up. I've got the wig in my hands.

2 minutes to go. They've let the general division people move up behind us, so it's time to put the wig on!! I've never really been nervous doing this before, but I'm sweating now.

Start - a rocket dash.

Wig status:
Fit - OK
Wind resistance - No problem
Positioning - Perfect

Let's go!!

My first goal is 5 km. I'll try to hang with the lead pack until there.

5 km - 15:01
I reached my first checkpoint. My legs are burning, though, so it's time to let go and go after goal #2. I wonder how I'm going to get all the way to the finish with my legs feeling like this. I have to switch back to my own pace and run my own race from here on out.

10 km - 32:11
A TV broadcast truck just came up next to me. "Hey, maybe they're following me to show the wig on TV!" I thought, but then [national record holder] Takaoka went by me. The TV truck kept going with him and left the wig and I all alone again.....


Hit halfway just under 1:10.

33 km
I caught up to Takaoka, who had slowed down a lot. I thought it might help if I said something, so I called out, "Hey, only 10 km to go!!" I heard later that he dropped out right after that. I wonder if he dropped out because I said that? 10 km is a long way. Maybe it was a mistake to say it. Sorry.

After that the headwind got really strong. The wig started to come off a bunch of times.

Wig: "I'm sorry to be making this harder for you. Please, don't worry about me. Just leave me and go on without me....."
Me: "Shut up, you idiot!! The Tokyo Marathon doesn't mean anything if we don't finish together!!"

I couldn't move my legs anymore and the headwind kept getting stronger. With one km to go I was totally broken and didn't want to keep going. Then, running well, the first woman came along.

Man, she was really, really cute.

I was reborn. All of a sudden I had the energy to start running hard again all the way to the finish. I wasn't planning on getting in her way at all, but as we came up to the finish the course marshalls starting waving me to the left, then to the right, and so I was zig-zagging around her getting in all the pictures and TV coverage. I really apologize for all of that.

Click photo for another video of Takata's finish complete with honorific bow.

Finish time: 2:25:38

That completes my goals for this marathon season. Thanks and good job to everyone else who ran with me. To everyone who's going to run a marathon next season, let's do our best!!

Comments

tokyophb said…
I appreciate your site very much. I found it while on vacation in Seattle at New Years. I was missing my Hakone ekiden something dreadful (1st time away from Japan at New Years since 1993) and found your wonderful blogsite. On Sunday I was wondering what the story was on that wig guy. Now I know. Thanks so much.
Taipei Marathoner said…
That was a fun and informative read. Thanks for the translation. Glad to have found your site, although I only rarely get to Japan (so far once/year for the Tokyo Marathon). I was wondering how much the wind slowed most runners down, and if it was a figment of my imagination coming as it did at the typical position of "the wall." I was estimating nearly two minutes for me as my legs were still feeling pretty strong at 35K, but it's impossible to say.
Anonymous said…
This article was linked in the comments section of Runner's World's RW Daily this morning. The discussion is about getting passed by people wearing gear that makes you go, "Man, I got passed by THAT guy??!" :)

This is cute. ^_^ I hope the race organizers weren't really upset like Takata-san worried they would be!

Most-Read This Week

Takushoku Teammates Lemeteki and Akasaki Sub-62 For 1-2 at Ageo City Half Marathon

Takushoku University teammates Joseph Razini Lemeteki and Akira Akasaki dominated the 2019 Ageo City Half Marathon, alternating the lead throughout almost the entire race to go 1-2 in school record times.

With invitations to the 2019 United Airlines NYC Half up for grabs to the top two Japanese collegiate finishers in the unofficial intramural tryout for Japan's most prestigious race, the 2020 Hakone Ekiden, things went out very conservatively by Ageo standards at just 3:00/km for the first 2 km. Not content with that, Akasaki, 3rd on his stage at both the Izumo Ekiden in October and the National University Ekiden earlier this month, picked up the race and carried it until 15 km. From 3 km to 8 km Akasaki split 14:33, pace for 1:01:24, condensing the pack behind him down to eight.


After the 10 km turnaround Akasaki's teammate Lemeteki made a bold move to gain contact with the lead group, and when he did it shaved things down to seven serious contenders. The front group stayed …

Japanese Amateur Yamaguchi and Ugandan Kusuro Break Kobe Course Records

Amateur Japanese club runner Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) and Ugandan Geoffrey Kusuro had dominant wins at the 9th running of the Kobe Marathon Sunday, both running PBs and winning by almost 4 minutes in course record time.

Yamaguchi, who ran a PB 2:33:06 in Sydney in September and dropped a surprise 31:58 at last weekend's East Japan Women's Ekiden, slipped away early, never challenged by the pack of invited African elites or by friend and rival club runner Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto). Going through halfway faster than her half marathon PB in 1:13:08. She slowed slightly in the second half, especially on the large bridge out to the island finish line, but her win was never in doubt as she broke the tape in 2:27:39. Previously, the fastest pure amateur Japanese women's marathon performance was Chihiro Tanaka's 2:29:30 in Nagoya in 2002. Breaking that by almost two minutes, Yamaguchi staked her claim as Japan's best-ever amateur.


2nd through 5th were close together…

800 m High School National Record Holder Clay to Attend Texas A&M

2019 men's 800 m national champion and Soyo H.S. 3rd-year Aaron Tatsunami Clay will enroll in America's Texas A&M University next September, it was learned on Nov. 14. Until then he plans to remain based at Soyo in preparation to go for the win at next year's National Championships and to clear the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifying standard.

The prestigious Texas A&M is where Donovan Brazier (U.S.A.), winner of the gold medal in the men's 800 m at this fall's Doha World Championships, is enrolled. Soyo H.S. head coach Mitsuru Zeniya, 53, who accompanied Clay on a visit to see the university, was supportive of Clay's decision and goals, saying, "He just barely missed the World Championships qualifying standard. If he trains with athletes who are stronger than him he'll grow more."

Last year at the October Niigata Autumn Time Trials meet Clay set a national high school record of 1:47.51 for 800 m. At the National Championships in June this yea…