Skip to main content

Veteran Kobayashi Hopes for First Sub-2:10 at Tokyo Marathon

http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nsp/item/153712

translated by Brett Larner

Veteran Seiji Kobayashi (Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki) has set himself an ambitious goal for the Feb. 28 Tokyo Marathon. Last year Kobayashi celebrated his 33rd birthday. His objective now is to join the sub-2:10 club. Accomplishing this after age 30 is an extremely tough task, and only one Japanese runner over age 33 has ever broken 2:10 for the first time, Sydney Olympian Shinji Kawashima (Team Asahi Kasei) at the 2003 Biwako Mainichi Marathon at age 33 and 9 months. In February last year Kobayashi ran a PB of 2:10:38 at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. Now this 30-something runner is ready to break the magic barrier in the heart of the big city.

At heart Kobayashi feels free and pure. With 13 marathons to his name he has straightforward feelings about Sunday's race. "I haven't thought about it in terms of my age. I want to run the World Championships next year [in Daegu, Korea]. In order to get there I want to run a fast time this year. That's all I'm thinking about," he said of his goals with conviction. He doesn't think going sub-2:10 over age 33 is an especially big deal, either, considering the fact that he has shown continued growth over his career. Nine years ago he won his marathon debut at the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon in 2:12:07. Two years ago he was 7th at the Tokyo Marathon in 2:11:02, then last year came his 2:10:38 PB.

Kobayashi's coach at Team Mitsubishi Juko Nagasaki, Jun Kuroki, explained the importance of setting achievable goals on his runner's continued physical and mental development and the satisfaction he has thereby found in his running. "By focusing just on breaking his own times and succeeding Kobayashi has become a more confident athlete. Not just in the marathon, but also in ekidens he has developed into a tough competitor."

When Kobayashi ran his PB at Beppu-Oita last year he was 2nd overall and the top Japanese finisher, putting him into the final list of contenders for the Berlin World Championships team. Although he was not selected, Kobayashi said of the experience, "Coming so close to running with the Rising Sun on my uniform I've become really motivated to get there next time." Having begun specific marathon training in November, Kobayashi has completed five 40 km runs in preparation for Tokyo.

In Tokyo Kobayashi will face two sub-2:10 men who did make the Berlin team, Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) and Nagasaki native Arata Fujiwara (Team JR Higashi Nihon). "This is the first time I'll have raced against Atsushi," said Kobayashi. "I want to see how tough he really is. I've known Fujiwara since high school and I've lost to him twice out of the two marathons we've raced, so I don't want to lose again. Sub-2:10 is another checkpoint along the way." With his ambitions burning strong, this late-blooming runner is ready to tackle the next step toward achieving his dreams.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Takes Six Minutes Off Kitakyushu Marathon Course Record to Lead Weekend Results

After a seven-week break from the marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) scored his third-straight marathon win, second-straight course record and came just shy of a third-straight negative split as he ran a completely solo 2:11:46 to take almost six minutes off the Kitakyushu Marathon course record. Following up on negative split wins at December's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and January's Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, the latter a course record by half an hour, Kawauchi was on his own in the first 100 m in Kitakyushu and never looked back.

In the hilly first 10 km his pace fluctuated from high-2:12 to high-2:10, but once Kawauchi got into the flatter section of the course he settled out on track for a high-2:11 to low-2:12 time. After a 1:05:51 split at halfway he slowed slightly on the outbound trip to the turnaround near 31 km, but picking it up again after 35 km he marked a 6:34 from 40 km to the finish to stop the clock at 2:11:46,  a 1:05:55 second half …

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
Upcoming race schedule: Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan
Mar. 25: Kuki Half Marathon, Saitama
Apr. 16: Boston Marathon, U.S.A.
May 5: Toyohirakawa Half Marathon, Hokkaido
June 2: ASICS Stockholm Marathon, Sweden
June 17: Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon, Shimane
July 1: Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Australia
Aug. 2…

Kenyans Kabuu, Jemeli and Cheyech Lead Nagoya Women's Marathon Field

The Nagoya Women's Marathon is the largest women-only marathon in the world, one with a long history as an elite race and adapting to the times with a mass-participation field of 20,000. The last few years it has seen a series of dynamic, high-level performances by top Japanese women, from Sairi Maeda's 2:22:48 in 2015 to the 2:23:19 to 2:23:20 sprint finish battle between Tomomi Tanaka and Rei Ohara in 2016 to Yuka Ando's stellar 2:21:36 debut and teammate Mao Kiyota's 2:23:47 breakthrough last year.

Maeda, Ohara and Kiyota all return this year to face the Kenyan trio of Lucy Kabuu, Valary Jemeli and Flomena Cheyech Daniel. Kabuu went to high school in Japan before moving on to the big leagues, but she hasn't finished a marathon since her 2:20:21 in Dubai 2015. Cheyech also used to be based in Japan as is a familiar face here, winning the last two Saitama International Marathons. Jemeli is making her Japanese debut, and with a 2:21:57 win in Prague and a 2:20:53 …