translated by Brett Larner
2007 Osaka World Championships men's 10000 m runner Kazuhiro Maeda (27, Team Kyudenko) is about to tackle 42.195 km for the first time. Maeda hopes to make the Berlin World Championships marathon team when he runs the Mar. 22 Tokyo Marathon. Only six Japanese men have ever broken 2:10 in their debut, but Maeda hopes to add his name to this exclusive list as he books his ticket out into the world.
It's a highly anticipated debut. Maeda has been up against the world's best on the track, but for Berlin he is targeting the marathon. "That's what I want to go for this time," he nods. To make the team he'll have to take at least the top Japanese position in Tokyo, a flashy debut to be sure. "I want to break 2:10," he says enthusiastically, "and if things go well, under [2 hours] 9:30." Of all the Japanese marathoners in history, only six have run under 2:10. A 2:09:30 would put him in 4th on the all-time Japanese debut list, ahead of national record holder Toshinari Takaoka (Team Kanebo).
The barrier is pretty high. Nevertheless, the road to Berlin leads that way and to follow Maeda will have to run that kind of time. At last December's Fukuoka International Marathon, top Japanese finisher Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) was 2nd overall in 2:09:23, securing the first spot on the World Championships team. 3rd place finisher Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon) followed close behind in 2:09:47. A 2:09:30 would give Maeda a realistic chance of being named to one of the open places on the team ahead of Fujiwara.
Maeda ran the 10000 m in the 2007 World Championships. He failed to make the Beijing Olympics team, but last year he ran new PBs for both 1500 m and 5000 m. Satisfied with his improvement and having polished his speed, he is ready for the next challenge. "I've found out what I'm made of over 5000 m and 10000 m, so the reasons I had inside for not running [the marathon] have all disappeared," he explains.
The Japanese marathon world has high hopes for this speed runner. In one step he could move to its leading edge. "I haven't done a marathon before so I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got the will to succeed and I think that at the end I'll be able to use my speed," he says. Fueled by his belief in his own potential, Maeda will run for the win.