translated and edited by Brett Larner
On June 15, Team Subaru announced that its leader Wataru Okutani, 34, a member of the 2005 and 2007 World Championships marathon teams, has retired from competition to take a coaching position on the Subaru staff. Okutani ran a PB of 2:08:49 at the 2006 Fukuoka International Marathon and was the fastest runner on the Japanese 2007 World Championships marathon squad, but shortly before the competition he had emergency internal surgery which forced him to withdraw. He spent the next year and a half trying to make a comeback but could never regain his prior form.
Okutani was born in the town of Harima in Hyogo Prefecture and attended Nishiwaki Kogyo High School. In 1992 he was a member of Nishiwaki's winning team at the National High School Ekiden Championships. After unsuccessful stints with Team Daiei and Team Sekisui he joined Team Subaru, placing 14th in the 2005 World Championships marathon in Helsinki. The 2007 World Championships in Osaka would have been his second straight national team appearance, but emergency surgery to repair a ruptured colon put an end to his dream.
Okutani is currently planning to run a retirement race later this year before he puts all of his focus into coaching. Speaking of his retirement and future plans, Okutani said, "I decided that it had become impossible for me to keep up the kind of fitness you need to be competitive at the professional level. Now I want to help someone else do what I couldn't do and make it to the Olympics."