translated and edited by Brett Larner
On June 12, Berlin World Championships marathoner Kazuhiro Maeda (28, Team Kyudenko) went to the Osaka headquarters of sporting goods manufacturer Mizuno to have measurements taken for the custom shoes he will wear in August's race in Berlin. The measurement process took two hours and included the creation of a mold of Maeda's feet, high speed camera recording of his stride pattern, and timing tests of various points of contact between his feet and the ground as he ran. "That was pretty tough," he laughed afterwards.
In his debut marathon in Tokyo in March Maeda was the top Japanese finisher and 2nd overall against a field of international runners with best times as fast as 2:04. A proven speed runner with World Championships 10000 m track credentials to his name, Maeda is training with the expectation that the Berlin World Championships marathon will evolve along the same lines as last summer's Beijing Olympics marathon, where the leaders ran the first 5 km in well under 15 minutes, and with the belief that he is good enough to do the same. "My practice is geared to have me ready to jump into a fast current and be able to swim. I want to cover everything I need to run a great race."
Although he has only one marathon under his belt and has not yet really proven his endurance, right from the start Maeda has been thinking bigger than just a nice, conservative top eight finish. "I'm going there to win a medal. Top eight would be the worst-case scenario." If he lives up to his words Maeda will instantly become the biggest new star in Japanese distance running.