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Kawauchi Wins Saitama Half-Marathon

http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20120312/ath12031205070010-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On the one-year anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, London Olympics marathon team candidate Yuki Kawauchi (25, Saitama Pref.) ran the Saitama Half-Marathon as a specially-invited guest, winning in 1:04:26.  After finishing 14th at the Tokyo Marathon two weeks ago Kawauchi said, "It's impossible for me to make the Olympics," but having been the top Japanese finisher at December's Fukuoka International Marathon selection race in a good time some chance remains of him making the team.  The Japanese federation will announce the men's and women's Olympic marathon team lineups at 3:30 p.m. on Mar. 12.

Kawauchi shaved his head in shame after running 2:12:51 for 4th in Tokyo.  He took three days off following the race and has only jogged since then.  He had also planned to just jog the Saitama Half, but once he was in the heat of the race his full strength came out.  "It's a tough, undulating course, so I think a 64 is pretty good here," he said after the race.  "People were cheering and it got me going.  When they're calling out, 'Do your best!' that's all you can do.  In the sense of helping me focus toward doing my best in achieving my next goal it was a good race.  At Tokyo next year I want to make up for what happened this year."

Having set his sights on making the national team for the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Kawauchi's spirits and motivation have returned.  Before then, he may well make the London team.  With Nagoya Women's Marathon 2nd-placer Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) considered a strong choice for the London team after having run poorly at the Daegu World Championships followed by two selection race runs, Kawauchi must be viewed as in almost the same position, finishing 3rd on the Japanese team in Daegu and 3rd overall in Fukuoka prior to running Tokyo.  It's possible he may join Arata Fujiwara (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) and Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) as the third man on the Olympic team.  Fans all across the country are watching to see if the dream success story of a self-training amateur making the Olympics comes true in the end.

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Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

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Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

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A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
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           …