translated and edited by Brett Larner
Click photo for full-sized image.
2005 and 2007 World Championships track runner Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) held a press conference in Fukuoka on Jan. 20 to formally announce that he will run his debut marathon at the Feb. 7 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. He was unambigious about his plans for his debut. "Ever since I went pro my goal has been the marathon. I'm running this to win it."
Ranked #3 for 5000 m and #4 for 10000 m on the all-time Japanese lists, Mitsuya made a big step toward the marathon a year ago with a 1:29:55 win at the Kumanichi 30 km, his first time racing such a long distance. Now looking toward the example of double 10000 m and marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka, Mitusya is attacking with two swords. Since last summer he has dedicated his training to preparation for his marathon debut, developing his strength over 30 km pace runs and completing five 40 km runs since the beginning of November. At the same time Mitsuya and his coach Koichi Morishita are going after his track speed, targeting Takaoka's 10000 m national record of 27:35.09. Morishita explained, "Our main goal this season is the 10000 m record. The marathon will serve as endurance training toward that aim." Looking toward next month's race Mitsuya says, "It's been a long time since I've felt this ready for a good fight. Coach really believes in winning, so that's got me feeling incredibly motivated for the win."
Morishita won the 1991 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon in his own debut, running 2:08:53 to beat the great Takeyuki Nakayama with an aggressive surge at 39 km. The next year Morishita went on to win the silver medal at the Barcelona Olympics. With the whole country waiting for the next generation of young Japanese marathoners to step up there is a lot of hope for a replay of Morishita's run. Mitsuya said, "People have always compared me to Coach to see who is better, but I'm trying not to think about any of that. The time you run depends on how the race plays out, so I'm not thinking about just trying to run fast. More than that I'm focusing on winning and having the kind of run that's going to make younger guys say, 'I want to do the marathon too.'
Morishita commented, "If he gains patience and stamina from the marathon then I think he's going to improve on the track." In Beppu-Oita Mitsuya will face strong athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia and Morocco. "Africans are tough," said Mitsuya, "but the Japanese can still give it to them. That's the kind of runner I want to be." Looking further ahead Mitsuya revealed, "The marathon is my target at the London Olympics."
Yu Mitsuya - Born 12/14/84. PBs: 1500 m: 3:46.80 5000 m: 13:18.32 10000 m: 27:41.10 10 miles: 46:28 half marathon: 1:02:26 30 km: 1:29:55