Skip to main content

Always in Threes - Nakamura on World Championships Day Eight

by Brett Larner

2009 women's 5000 m national champion Yurika Nakamura may not be as talented as the top Kenyans and Ethiopians or even some of her countrywomen, but her performance in the 5000 m final at the 2009 World Championships marks her as the star of the Japanese team with only the medal hopefuls in the women's marathon and men's javelin left to outshine her efforts. In the 10000 m and the 5000 m heats Nakamura took the early lead to keep the races from going out too slowly, ran negative splits, and was rewarded with credible PBs. In the 5000 m final it was the same story. At 1000 m she was in the lead in 3:06.02. When the real racing began she was left behind, ultimately finishing 12th of 15, but she improved her PB from the heats by 8 seconds as she clocked a very decent 15:13.01. Three races in eight days, three PBs. With her stated goal for this year being to improve her track speed before taking another shot at the marathon Nakamura looks well on the way to something big.

2008 national champion and 1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi was one spot ahead of Nakamura, 11th overall in 15:12.44. Her time was far off her PB, but after a spring filled with injury it was a season best mark and showed that Kobayashi is almost back to form.

The most anticipated event of the evening for Japanese viewers was the men's 4x100 m relay. Sporting a new lineup containing only half of its Beijing Olympics bronze medal-winning squad along with two up-and-coming student runners, the Japanese team easily made the final. Up against giants like Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, the new Japanese team was clipped for bronze by the British team by a margin of 0.28 seconds. The Japanese team's mark of 38.30 was a season best, and while they fell short of extending the legacy of last year's first-ever Japanese men's track medal it was a hopeful sign for the country's aspirations of developing world-class sprinters. The women's 4x100 m squad featuring national record holder Chisato Fukushima was unable to follow suit, finishing 14th of 17 in the first round and failing to advance, with the women's 4x400 m squad also left behind at 14th in the heats.

Japanese national team captain Daichi Sawano made the final of the men's pole vault, but after clearing only 5.50 he finished 10th of 15.

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

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…