Skip to main content

Yukiko Akaba Aiming for 2:22 in Second Marathon

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/p-sp-tp0-20090318-472510.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20090318-OHT1T00135.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Japan's toughest mother, Beijing Olympics track runner Yukiko Akaba (29, Team Hokuren), is staking everything on Berlin. Having placed 2nd in January's Osaka International Women's Marathon in her first attempt at the distance, Akaba is now on the provisional list for the August 15-23 Berlin World Championships women's marathon team. At a press conference in Sapporo on Mar. 17, Akaba told members of the media that if she is not chosen for the World Championships team she will instead run the Sept. 20 Berlin Marathon. In either case, her goal in her second marathon is a time of 2:22, a mark which would put her into the all-time Japanese women's top ten. Following her Osaka run, Akaba said at the time, "I'm not thinking about anything but the marathon now. I'm certain I will run [on the national team]."

At last year's Beijing Olympics Akaba became the Japanese athletics world's first runner to also be a mother, but after suffering food poisoning she finished a disappointing 20th in the 10000 m and failed to advance to the final in the 5000 m. "Getting into the top eight in the track world is tough, but as a Japanese runner I can medal in the marathon," she said of the new phase of her career. Osaka winner Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) was named to one of the three guaranteed places on the World Championships team. Akaba's 2nd place finish in a strong 2:25:40 puts her into one of the two open spots, but her position will not be secure until the end of the spring overseas major marathon season at the end of April.

In the leadup to her debut in Osaka Akaba was unable to do the kind of training she wanted thanks to the demands of the ekiden season and some trouble with her right leg in November. Since Osaka her training has been completely focused upon the marathon. In Osaka she was unable to cope with Shibui's assault after 30 km, so to improve her stamina and finishing speed Akaba travelled to Tokunoshima island on Feb. 25 for a three-week training camp. On Tokunoshima she averaged over 200 km per week and completed a 40 km training run on Mar. 14. On May 10 Akaba plans to run the Sendai International Half Marathon as her first race of the season, followed by the 5000 m and 10000 m at June's National Track and Field Championships. Akaba's husband and coach Shuhei (29) commented, "We're not even thinking about running track events at the World Championships. We believe she's going to be picked for the marathon, but if she isn't then we're also looking at the Berlin Marathon. Sendai is just for keeping focus." One way or another, Akaba's current preparations will bear fruit in Berlin.

Looking ahead to London, Shuhei also revealed that they are examining high-altitude locations in the Mt. Ontake area and in the United States for establishing a training base next year. The current women's national record in the marathon is 2:19:12, held by Noguchi Mizuki (Team Sysmex). Only eight Japanese women have broken 2:23. Utterly focused on the road to London, Akaba says, "My husband, my daughter Yuna and I want to win a medal in London together as a family. The next step is to run 2:22 in my second marathon."

Comments

dennis said…
Akaba deserves to get picked. It was brave of her to try to stick to Shibui's quick acceleration at 30 km. She was way ahead of Hara. If I think Hara did well Akaba did way better.

Most-Read This Week

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

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…