translated by Brett Larner
In the men's division at the Feb. 6 Kanagawa Half Marathon, Aoyama Gakuin University sophomore Takehiro Deki had the kind of result you would expect based on his abilities as he dominated the field to take his first Kanagawa win. Having played a major role in Aoyama Gakuin's second-straight seeded finish at Hakone last month, the 20-year old crossed the Kanagawa finish line with both arms stretched wide in a new PB of 1:04:16.
A Nagasaki native, Deki was a no-name at the national level in high school, but, he says, "I wanted to run Hakone all the same." Enrolling in Aoyama Gakuin, he began averaging 30 km a day in training and showed remarkably quick development. As a first-year he was 9th on Hakone's First Stage, and this year he was 4th on the ace Second Stage, Hakone's most competitive. "I understand how to run now," is his simple self-evaluation of his results.
Aoyama Gakuin head coach Susumu Hara, 43, says the race plan for Kanagawa was, "To get the experience of running a shrewd race." Deki ran in the lead pack for the first 15 km, then gradually ratched up his gears over the last 5 km. "The last 2 or 3 km were pretty hard," Deki said afterward with a fatigued smile, but in the end he broke his two year old PB by 2 minutes. Considering that he neither trained specifically nor peaked for Kanagawa his result shows the quality of runner he really is.
Looking ahead to the rest of his Hakone career, Deki says with conviction, "The goal for next year is to improve my time. I'll have two more chances. So far we've barely made the seeded bracket twice. I want us to become one of the best teams."
Translator's note: Deki emerged from nowhere at October's Takashimadaira 20 km, tying the course record of 58:51 despite running entirely alone and having utterly unremarkable 5000 m and 10000 m PBs. He was again superb at Hakone, running 1:07:50 for 23.2 km to prove that his strength lies in the longer distances. While it doesn't sound as though Kanagawa was a serious effort to run a fast time, his Takashimadaira and Hakone marks, which convert to roughly a 1:02:05 and a 1:01:40 half marathon respectively, suggest he has plenty more room for improvement over his 1:04:16 best in Kanagawa.