Skip to main content

Shirotake Wins Second-Straight Tokushima Marathon

http://www.topics.or.jp/special/12254542636/2011/11/2011_132062725767.html
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/region/news/111107/tks11110702200000-n1.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Running along the banks of the late-fall Yoshino River and carried on by a wind of applause, 32-year-old Masahi Shirotake was the first of the 5799 finishers to break the goal tape at the Nov. 6 Tokushima Marathon, winning for the second-straight year and achieving a new course record of 2:24:49.  Headed back toward the finish in the later stages of the race he looked forward to being greeted by the traditional awaodori dancers at the finish line.  "The cheers from all the spectators were neverending and with a warmth that you can only find here," said Shirotake after the race.  "It really feels great to run the Tokushima Marathon."

Shirotake was born in Konan, Kochi prefecture.  In junior high school and high school he was a 1500 m runner, but he could never advance beyond the city-level qualifiers.  After entering the elite Tokyo University's engineering department he began playing tennis, but, he laughed, "No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get any better."  After finishing graduate school at Tokyo University he took a job with the Shikoku Denryoku power company, "so that I could work in an area with abundant nature like Kori, Shikoku."  Initially having difficulty meeting people after moving to the area, Shirotake spend most of his days off from work out running alone to explore the area.  At the Aichi Marathon he ran much faster than he expected and, deciding to focus on the full marathon, joined a local running club.

Once his goal was fixed he set out with characteristic determination and concentration to make it happen.  "I wanted to improve time even just a little bit," he said of the increase in his training volume to 700 km a month.  This year he has run four marathons.  He set a PB in February and just two months later he was on the victory stand of an overseas marathon in New Zealand, showing the toughness lurking within him.

This year's Tokushima Marathon asked runners to write their hopes and prayers for the victims of March's disasters on their bib numbers.  Shirotake wrote, "Let's keep looking upward as we walk on."  "My message wasn't just to my friends in the disaster-hit areas, but to everyone in Japan," he said.  "If we all stick together then we can reach our goal of reconstruction and recovery," he explained.  Drawing strength from this message written across his chest, Shirotake succeeded in winning Tokushima for the second time.

Already busy with balancing the demands of both work and training for the marathon, Shirotake celebrated the birth of his second child in July.  "I'm not usually able to help much with raising the children, so from the bottom of my heart I want to thank my family for their support in letting me run here.  I can't wait to tell them that I won," he said, the gold medal held tight in his hand full of special meaning.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…

Osaka Marathon Elite Field

One of the world's ten biggest marathons, in its six runnings to date the Osaka Marathon has continued to avoid the addition of a world-class elite field of the same caliber as at equivalently-sized races like Tokyo, Berlin and Boston. In place of doling out cash to pros, Osaka's women's field has developed into a sort of national championship race for amateur women.

In the field this year are six, probably all six, of the amateur Japan women to have broken 2:40 in the last three years. Last year's top three, Yoshiko Sakamoto (F.O.R.), Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) and Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) lead the way at the 2:36 +/- level, with a second trio of Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo), Mitsuko Ino (R2 Nishin Nihon) and Chika Tawara (RxL) all around the 2:39 level.

Last year's winner Sakamoto and 3rd placer Yoshimatsu squared off in September at Germany's Volksbank Muenster Marathon, Yoshimatsu tying Sakamoto's Osaka winning time of 2:36:02 to take 3rd over …