Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kazuhiro Maeda and the Need for Speed


translated and edited by Brett Larner

Team Kyudenko's Kazuhiro Maeda (28) will run the marathon later this month at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin after finishing 2nd overall in his marathon debut in adverse conditions at March's Tokyo Marathon. It will be Maeda's second-straight World Championships appearance, having run the 10000 m at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. "I'm hungry for a medal, and that's how I'm going to run," he told a crowd of 300 supporters who gathered July 30 to see him off.

Having booked his ticket to the World Championships Maeda isn't trying to take the easy way by hanging back from the competition. Facing the prospect of hot, taxing conditions he has made a firm decision to be among the leaders setting the undoubtedly fast pace. "I'll be up there cruising in the flow. If I fall off I'll do everything I can to hang on," he said with assurance.

However, it's clear these days that even in deepest summer the pace of a world-class race will no longer break. At last summer's Beijing Olympics, Japanese-trained Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya broke the Olympic record by three minutes to win in 2:06:32. 2005 World Championships bronze medalist Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku) advanced through the field in the second half of the race to finish 13th overall, the top Japanese position. Maeda's coach Kenji Ayabe views this year's race the same way as Maeda, saying, "Trying to come from behind isn't going to get anywhere anymore. Kazuhiro has to stay up front to make sure he finishes in the prizes."

Since June Maeda has been in full-time marathon training, working to bring his 27-minute 10000 m speed to the marathon. Running in Kokonoemachi, Oita Prefecture on a course rich in hills, Maeda has completed four 40 km workouts and one 45 km run. From July 6-17 he moved to a training camp in Hokkaido to work on his speed on track and cross country courses.

Maeda's sole race of the reason was a 5000 m on the track in 13:49.81. Marathon and 10000 m national record holder Toshinari Takaoka, now a coach for Team Kanebo, watched him run the 5000 m and told him afterwards, "When I ran my good marathons I ran the same kind of time for 5000 m that you just did," lifting Maeda's spirits and spurring him on as the big date approaches.

"Kazuhiro hasn't had any injuries or down time, and he's done pretty much 100% of the training on the menu," said Coach Ayabe. In his prime at age 28, Maeda is prepared and eager for the fight. "I've put in everything I need to. Now I'm ready to come out swinging."

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