Skip to main content

Son of Yamanashi Gakuin Coach Ueda Breaks 30 Year-Old 2000 m Record

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/news/20100913-OYT1T00255.htm
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/yamanashi/news/20100913-OYT8T00829.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

At the Yamanashi Prefectural Track and Field Championships on Sept. 11, Kofu North Municipal J.H.S. third-year Kenta Ueda, 15, son of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Yamanashi Gakuin University's head coach Masahito Ueda, 51, ran 5:34.41 to break the junior high school 2000 m national record 30 years after the previous mark of 5:40.02 was set in 1980 by Hiro Takeuchi (Hiroshima Takamiya J.H.S.). The younger Ueda's time also broke the best time his father ran in junior high school. "I'm happy, but I think this was just a checkpoint along the way," he said afterwards. "I'm already looking toward the next step. I want to run the Hakone Ekiden someday." His father commented, "Kenta still has a long way to go ahead of him, but more than anything else I want him to enjoy his years as an athlete."

Ueda previously won the 1500 m at August's National Junior High School Track and Field Championships in Tottori prefecture. With these two marks under his belt in just over a month Ueda looks set to become a star like his father, but the older Ueda says with a laugh, "It probably looks like this is just a situation where a famous athlete is trying to push his child into following in his footsteps, but it's not like that at all." His son agrees, saying, "Dad gives me advice on my form and whatnot, but whether we're at home or practice nothing changes. We're just a normal father and son."

Kenta began junior high school on the basketball team, but, he says, "When I saw Kensuke Takezawa (Waseda Univ. grad, now Team S&B) run the Hakone Ekiden it had a big impact on me and I wanted to run too. He was really great." Coach Ueda trains his son twice a week at the Yamanashi Gakuin University track. The focus of the sessions is on 400 m intervals because, Coach Ueda explains, "When runners are in their mid-teens the body and especially the nervous system are still growing, and it is important to teach the body how it feels to run fast at that stage. Otherwise they won't be able to race hard once they are fully grown. I'm always thinking about how to adjust workouts to be suitable for an athlete's age. There's no point in them burning out while still young."

Last year Kenta Ueda had a brush with exactly this kind of problem. Between August and May he grew rapidly and experienced severe anemia as a result of trying to continue to train hard. He was unable to keep up his workouts and did not get back into form until early this past summer. His 1500 m national title and 2000 m national record show that he and has father now have their training fine-tuned to match his physical maturity level.

Looking toward high school, with the same passion and zeal characteristic of his father Kenta says, "I'm prioritizing track and field over academics. I want to go somewhere with a lot of strong guys that I can test myself against. I want to be national high school champion, and I want to go to a school where I can run Hakone. After that I want a long, successful career as a pro athlete."

Although many athletes from Yamanashi prefecture go elsewhere for their university and professional ekiden careers, the chance that the younger Ueda will attend Yamanashi Gakuin University is very high. The possibility that this native son will continue to run locally gives Yamanashi residents something to look forward to in distance running in coming years.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Prioritizing track and field over academics. Really smart...ha! Look out Bekele!

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

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
           …