translated by Brett Larner
At the Nov. 25 Koedo Kawagoe Half Marathon, Kawagoe resident Sho Matsumoto, 27, won overall in a course record time of 1:05:33. As a first-year at Tokyo University he showed his determination by making the 2005 Hakone Ekiden on the Kanto Regional University Select Team. Crossing Kawagoe's finish line with arms outspread almost eight years later, he outran all the invited university runners in the field. "That was a lot faster than I planned," he said with a rueful smile. "I'm surprised too. Maybe I overdid it a little....." The truth is that Matsumoto is entered to run next weekend's Fukuoka International Marathon, a selection race for the 2013 Moscow World Championships. "I just planned to go out at a moderate, conservative pace, but it was feeling easy and I found myself running in 2nd. With 500 m to go I kicked for the win. I'm probably going to pay for it next week."
At Kobayashi H.S. in his native Miyazaki, Matsumoto ran the National High School Ekiden Championships as a first-year and again as a third-year. After entering Tokyo University he ran the 2005 Hakone Ekiden on the Kanto Regional University Select Team, finishing 10th on the Eighth Stage. The fact that the elite Tokyo University even had a running team became news, and Matsumoto earned a reputation as a top scholar-athlete.
After graduating he joined the TEPCO corporate ekiden team but resigned after three years.* He now works at the Nikkei Business Service company in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Since quitting the TEPCO team, as an amateur he frequently runs in Yoyogi Park nearby his office and on the Koedo Kawagoe Half Marathon course in Kawagoe Suijo Park near his home. He typically runs 10 to 20 km on weekdays and reserves his 30 km long runs for weekends, a perfectly ordinary training schedule.
Burning in Matsumoto's mind, however, is his greatest rival, the role model for amateurs everywhere, Yuki Kawauchi, 25. Kawauchi is also on the entry list for Fukuoka. Matsumoto couldn't ask for a better chance for a good fight. "(In Fukuoka) I want to be up front and on TV in the first half," he says. "If I don't blow up in the second half then hopefully I can finish around 2:13." With his times steadily improving lately, Matsumoto says his ultimate goal is, "to break 2:10 and make the Japanese National Team in the marathon." Next week may well turn into a battle between amateurs for a Moscow ticket, and that is sure to create some buzz.
*Translator's note: This would likely mean that Matsumoto quit the team following the Mar. 11, 2011 disasters, when members of TEPCO's ekiden team were sent to help with cleanup in Fukushima after the explosions at TEPCO's nuclear plants in that area.
Matsumoto's recent results include a 2:19:26 win, a PB by 6:53, at the Oct. 28 Oikawa Marathon and a 1:04:01 at the Nov. 18 Ageo City Half Marathon.