translated by Brett Larner
The 46th Ome Road Race takes place this Sunday, Feb. 19. This year 20000 runners from across the country are entered, 15000 in the 30 km and 5000 in the 10 km. This is the first in a five-part series on runners who will help call in spring on the streets of Ome.
At the Feb. 5 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon, Kaori Yoshida (30, Amino Vital AC) drew attention for her pacemaking of comedian runner Hiroshi Neko, 34, who was attempting to qualify for Cambodia's London Olympic team after having changed his citizenship. Running between 17 and 18 minutes per 5 km, Yoshida finished her run at the 30 km point in 1:46:22. "I kind of wanted to keep going, but I knew I had other races coming up so I stopped there," she says with a wry smile. Neko went on to smash his PB with a new mark of 2:30:26, opening up the door for his chances for the Olympics. His result inspired Yoshida. "In his training he was really improving and growing. Seeing that gave me motivation to keep moving forward too," she says.
Yoshida has been a member of top corporate teams including Sekisui Kagaku where she was coached by Yoshio Koide (Sakura AC). These she is a club runner, running with amateur club members twice a week around Tokyo's Imperial Palace. "I learn a lot from training together with the club members," she says of their impact on her. "The environment I'm in right now suits me the best of any I've been in."
It goes without saying that her personal goal is to make the Olympics. At November's Yokoham International Women's Marathon she ran into trouble and finished only 7th. She will be looking for payback at the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon, where ten women who have made Olympic or World Championships marathon teams since 2008, including national record holder Mizuki Noguchi (33, Team Sysmex), have already declared they plan to run. In the face of such competition she remains confident, saying, "If I run my own race I think I can run 2:24." As a tune-up for Nagoya her goal for the Ome 30k is, "To win in 1:42." The cheers from spectators along the streets of Ome will help give her the strength she needs to punch her Olympic ticket.
Kaori Yoshida - Born Aug. 4, 1981 in Sakado, Saitama. 155 cm, 40 km. Youngest of three children. Began running in junior high school, and as a student at Kawagoe Joshi H.S. won the 1999 Asian XC Junior race. She joined the Sekisui Kagaku corporate team in 2000, and after switching to the Shideido team and then the Second Wind club she joined Amino Vital AC in 2009. She won the 2006 Hokkaido Marathon and has won two overseas marathons. Her PB is 2:29:45 from the 2010 Chicago Marathon.