translated and edited by Brett Larner
Scheduled to join the Fujitsu corporate team following his graduation from Toyo University at the end of March, Ryuji Kashiwabara told reporters about his future ambitions at a March 30 press conference in Tokyo, saying, "At some point in my career as an athlete I want to run in the Olympics." Kashiwabara won the Hakone Ekiden's 900 m-climb Fifth Stage all four years at Toyo, three of them in new stage records. In January this year at the Hakone Ekiden he broke his own record a final time, leaving with a legacy as "The God of the Mountain."
With an eye toward his development as a marathoner in the future, Kashiwabara has set his sights on improving his junior-year 10000 m PB of 28:20.99. "To start with, I want to get down around the 27 minute range," he said of his short-term goals. On April 1 he will join Fujitsu as a contract employee, working at the company while training. He is entered to run at the April 21 Hyogo Relay Carnival.
Translator's note: Kashiwabara is one of the biggest stars in Japanese distance running, nationally-known to the general public thanks to his Hakone Ekiden performances. A native of Fukushima, he is the public face of recovery efforts in the disaster-hit prefecture. Compare Twitter follower numbers for some of the world's better-known distance athletes:
Mo Farah: 73,892
Paula Radcliffe: 46,023
Haile Gebrselassie: 37,160
Ryan Hall: 36,912
Bernard Lagat: 16,380
Shalane Flanagan: 14,640
Kenenisa Bekele: 2,952
Ryuji Kashiwabara: 76,037