translated by Brett Larner
Kawauchi wins in Kushiro. Click photo to enlarge.
On July 31 Daegu World Championships marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (24, Saitama Pref.) told members of the media that federation direction of men's marathoning Yasushi Sakaguchi (49, Team Chugoku Denryoku) is now acting as his advisory coach in the lead-up to the World Championships. The "lone wolf" of Japanese marathoning, Kawauchi does not belong to a corporate team and does not have a coach. These circumstances led to federation officials stepping in temporarily to protect Kawauchi and his interests, which in turn has led to director Sakaguchi frequently giving Kawauchi coaching advice.
On July 31, Kawauchi won the Kushiro Shitsugen 30 km road race, in Kushiro, Hokkaido, his final preparatory race for Worlds, in 1:33:55, well ahead of his goal of 1:40:00. His other races this summer have largely been a series of disasters. In June he was hospitalized after suffering heat stroke near the end of the Okinoshima 50 km ultramarathon and he finished only 63rd at the Sapporo International Half Marathon in early July. In the last of the five practice races he announced following his naming to the Daegu marathon squad in the spring, Kawauchi finally scored a win, crossing the line with his fist raised in the air. After the race he declared it a success, enthusiastically saying, "Finally, I can feel like I ran my kind of race. I give this one a perfect score, 100%!" At the award ceremony he showed up dressed all in green like the Hokkaido mascot Marimokkori, drawing applause and laughter from local Kushiro residents.
His last tune-up now safely behind him and his relationship with the federation solidified, one more worry remains for Kawauchi as he faces the World Championships: not being able to find a place in Daegu to eat his personal "power food," curry. In Kushiro the only curry specialty shop he could find had gone out of business, so he had to eat curry noodles at a standing fast-food noodle shop in front of the station. "Curry is an absolute must," he said. "To keep my spirits up I've got to eat it at least three times [while in Daegu before the race]. But it has to be European style!" For this star of the amateur running world, the assistance he wants most is not from other people but from his favorite food.
Translator's note: Sakaguchi has coached 2005 World Championships men's marathon bronze medalist Tsuyoshi Ogata and Olympians Shigeru Aburuya and Atsushi Sato among others.