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Saitama's Kawauchi Battles With the Best at the Tokyo Marathon

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the Tokyo Marathon on Feb. 28, a Saitama Prefectural Government employee showed that he is able to battle with the best of the invited elites. His name is Yuki Kawauchi, age 22. Fitting in his training while working regular hours in the department overseeing prefectural high school administration, Kawauchi finished 4th in a PB of 2:12:36.

As a student at Saitama's Kasukabe East H.S. Kawauchi was frequently troubled by injury. He became the elite Gakushuin University's first-ever runner to make the Hakone Ekiden, running twice on the Kanto Regional University Select Team and finishing a strong 3rd on the downhill 6th Stage as a senior last year. He received invitations from many jitsugyodan teams but instead focused on studying for the examinations for entering public service.

Kawauchi currently does most of his training before his office opens at 1:00 p.m., going to a nearby park where he trains "while dodging pigeons." He ran his first two marathons as a university senior, running 2:19 at the 2009 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon and following up just over a month later with a small PB at the Tokyo Marathon. In December he ran a PB of 2:17:33 at the Fukuoka International Marathon, 13th overall and the 3rd-place Japanese finisher. For Tokyo this time he used his days off on the weekends to increase his overall mileage.

In the race he ran up front in the lead pack the entire way. He was unaffected by the cold rain and wind, saying, "This kind of cold felt just right." After 35 km he led for part of the way, and over the final stretch he pushed 2009 World Championships marathon 6th place finisher and half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denyoku) to the breaking point.

"That was the best running of my entire life," said Kawauchi after the race. "There are a lot of people who quit running after graduating from university, but today I wanted to show them that you can still make it as an amateur." Of the 1,000,000 yen prize money he won by placing 4th Kawauchi says, "It'll probably all be gone soon paying for shoes and travel to races. But it'll help me get to my next target: a sub-2:10."


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