translated and edited by Brett Larner
In his first race of the year, Olympic marathon hopeful Yuki Kawauchi (24, Saitama Pref.) finished 2nd in 1:06:19 at the 13th Mari Tanigawa Half Marathon behind winner Kazuyoshi Tokumoto (32, Team Nissin Shokuhin) who ran 1:05:36. Kawauchi declared the performance a good shakeout in the buildup to his bid for the London Olympic team at the Feb. 26 Tokyo Marathon.
Two years ago Kawauchi won the Mari Tanigawa Half Marathon in 1:06:49, and last year he was 3rd in 1:06:40. This time, running into a strong headwind in the second half of the race Kawauchi slowed, but he still held on to make the podium in his best time on this course. "Now I've got all three kinds of medals from this race," he laughed. "My dream is to travel to see all the other amateur runners all across Japan. From now on I'll go anywhere I'm invited."
Over the New Year's holidays Kawauchi joined a training camp with his old high school, Saitama's Kasukabe Higashi H.S., where he ran much more mileage than usual, banging out 50-60 km per day. He will not run on the Saitama team at the Jan. 22 National Men's Ekiden, instead running the local Okumusashi Ekiden on Jan. 29 a week before returning to the Feb. 5 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon on the road to Tokyo. "My goal is to run 2:07 in Tokyo," he said, "so in Marugame I'm aiming to break my PB [1:02:40 at last year's Marugame]." As with last year, the Marugame Half will be where Kawauchi revs his engine up to go full throttle at the Tokyo Marathon, where, he said, "I want to prove that amateurs can aim for the Olympics too. This is the year where I take it all on."
Update: Amino Vital AC runners Kaori Yoshida and Eri Hayakawa went 1-2 in the women's race in quick times of 1:11:16 and 1:12:55. It was Yoshida's third-straight and fourth-total win at the Tanigawa Half. Hayakawa is a three-time past winner, taking the 2004, 2006 and 2007 editions.