Skip to main content

A Mature New Atsushi Fujita, Resurrected and Loving Life - Tokyo Marathon

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2009/03/20090319t64056.htm
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/sports/other/090318/oth0903181808005-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At age 32, former men's marathon national record holder Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu) will be running the Tokyo Marathon for the first time in a bid to make the national team for August's World Championships in Berlin. Long since having lost his record, he doesn't want to end up in obscurity. "My goal isn't just to be the top Japanese finisher," he says with a champion's resolve. "I'm going to make the World Championships team by taking down all the strong international guys and winning."

When Fujita was 24 he set the previous national record of 2:06:51 at the 2000 Fukuoka International Marathon, becoming and remaining the only Japanese man to run 2:06 within the country. Coming in the wake of the disastrous showing by the Japanese men's team in the Sydney Olympics he was hailed as the new national star, but at the following year's Edmonton World Championships he couldn't put himself together and finished only 12th. Ever since then, he reflects, he has always "felt too negative" and not really brought his full will to selection races, falling away from the world stage.

In his last marathon, the 2007 Fukuoka International Marathon, Fujita had muscle spasms on the inside of his thighs and finished 8th while trying to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, falling just meters from the finish. Shortly afterwards in early 2008 his mother passed away from a brain tumor at age 54. Feeling lost, he left his longtime training base with his Komazawa University-era coach Hiroaki Oyagi and quit running. "Running became meaningless. I couldn't see what I was doing it for anymore," he relates.

After a time Fujita returned to Team Fujitsu's home office in Chiba, moving into the company dormitory to live with the other runners on the company's ekiden team. Gradually things began to change for him. "Coming back into that kind of group environment after being alone for so long helped me to cut down the stress I felt. I started to have fun again. I started to think I could do it again." Instead of focusing on his own marathoning as he had for years, Fujita turned to the ekiden. He began running workouts with the team, showing leadership to the younger runners by leading workouts and giving them advice when they needed it. Teammates and competitors alike were taken aback by the friendly, humorous and positive new personality he began to display.

Washing away his somber and stoic former self, Fujita led the team to its first New Year Ekiden win in 9 years, narrowly clipped for the stage best time by Keita Akiba (Team Komori Corp.) but easily outdistancing the other runners on the stage. "Damnit, you're fast, man!" he laughed right after finishing, clapping the obviously delighted Akiba on the back. But this was not his only achievement of the year. In the lead up to the New Year Ekiden he beat 5000 m national record holder and 30 km world record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta), star rookie Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) and other competitive men to take the stage best title in the East Japan Jitsugyodan Ekiden. More significantly, he broke his ancient 5000 m PB with a new time of 13:54.65 and broke 28:30 for 10000 m for the first time in 5 years, clocking 28:25.67. Giving credit where credit is due, Fujita says, "Coming back to the ekiden has given me new direction. But now that ekiden season is over I'm ready for the marathon."

Along with his new outlook on life Fujita has taken a new approach to marathoning by avoiding the high-volume overtraining for which he had become notorious, focusing instead on speed. "I have a completely different mindset than before. I threw out everything I thought I knew about the marathon and started over," he says. To help himself prepare to deliver the kind of speed necessary to defeat today's world-class marathoners he has started regular weightlifting for the first time. "Strengthening my torso has reduced the instability in my form. And I've gotten a lot bigger," he laughs. "I used to always wear a medium-sized uniform, but this year I've had to go up to a large!" Of the effects of age he says, "I feel it in some ways, but I've been able to compensate for it in others. I'm making up for what I'm losing with age through efficiency and experience." Late in his career, the whole country waits to see this resurrected star's new style as he goes for his third World Championships.

Atsushi Fujita - Born Nov. 6, 1976 in Fukushima Pref. 166 cm, 52 kg. Graduated from Komazawa Univ. and runs for Team Fujitsu. Finished 6th in 1999 World Championships marathon and 12th in 2001. Set the previous national record of 2:06:51 in winning the 2000 Fukuoka International Marathon. Most recent marathon win was the 2007 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.

Comments

Brett Larner said…
This is the last of the elite profile articles I'm translating. Apart from the one on Tosa I haven't been able to find anything on any of the women. My apologies. I'll give them equal treatment in the preview article I'm going to put up tonight.

Most-Read This Week

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume

Known as the Civil Servant Runner, Saitama Prefectural Government employee Yuki Kawauchi's career record of 78 sub-2:20 marathons was officially recognized as the Guinness World Record at a ceremony in his hometown of Kuki, Saitama on Mar. 25.  Raised in Kuki, Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government after graduating from university. Running while working full-time as a civil servant, he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trial race.

Earlier this month on the 18th Kawauchi ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon, winning in 2:14:12. His 78th time running faster than 2 hours and 20 minutes, his achievement was certified as the official Guinness World Record. He actually broke the previous record on Jan. 1 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A. with his 76th sub-2:20 but followed up with two performances, one in February and the other last week, before Guinness could ratify the record.

The official recognition ceremony took place Mar. 2…

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…