Skip to main content

The God of the Mountain Kashiwabara Ready to Take On the Next Stage of His Career in Ome

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On Feb. 4 the Ome 30 km Road Race organizing committee released the elite field for the event's 47th running, to be held Feb. 17.  The star of the Hakone Ekiden from 2009 to 2012, Ryuji Kashiwabara (23, Team Fujitsu) is targeting an ambitious time of 1:30:30 in his 30 km debut.  The guest starter for the race will be 2012 London Olympics men's 200 m butterfly bronze medalist Takeshi Matsuda (28, Cosmos Pharmaceuticals).

The center of the excitement at Hakone and earning the nickname "the God of the Mountain" through his heroics on its uphill Fifth Stage, Kashiwabara is now ready to take on the next stage of his career. Until now he has never run as far as 30 km in a race.  "I want to take some chances in the race and try different things," he said.  "I want to make it something that is going to help me build toward bigger things.  Coach says I should go for 1:30:30, so that's the time I'll be shooting for."

With 85.8 m elevation difference and constant, rolling ups and downs the Ome course is a difficult one.  Running it as a training run before his win at the 1981 Boston Marathon, Toshihiko Seko ran the fastest time ever in Ome, 1:29:32.  Next in the record books is 1980 winner Randy Thomas' 1:30:44.  If Kashiwabara runs as planned it will be the biggest men's result in over 30 years.

Kashiwabara's coach at the Fujitsu team, Tadashi Fukushima, 48, says that they have established a long-term plan to prepare Kashiwabara to run the marathon at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  "His first year [with Fujitsu] he will run 30 km.  He will make his marathon debut in or after his second year.  The tough ups and downs in Ome are made for Kashiwabara."  His run in two weeks will be the first step in that plan.

At the New Year Ekiden corporate men's national championships Kashiwabara finished only 4th on the 12.5 km Sixth Stage, but he showed great strength in starting out fast right from the beginning of the stage.  As a student at Toyo University he won Hakone's Fifth Stage, 23.4 km with 864 m of climb, all four years, three in course records.  If he can bring the same talent and power that commanded the attention of the entire nation to Ome there is no doubt that the world-class level will have drawn one step closer.  "I'm not right on the edge of making my marathon debut yet," Kashiwabara said, "but I plan to get there before Rio.  I have to find the secret of being competitive in flat races."  Looking to upgrade from his "God of the Mountain" moniker, the Ome 30 km will be Kashiwabara's runway to the stars.


Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi and Kiyara Live Up to Expectations With Wan Jin Shi Wins

Returning to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon after having first run it in 2016, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran 2:14:12 to score his fourth-straight marathon win in a third-straight wire-to-wire solo performance. Choosing the hilly Wan Jin Shi Marathon as his final main tuneup for next month's Boston Marathon, Kawauchi came out swinging, leading an all-African pack of seven by almost 10 seconds after the tough uphill opening 5 km and stretching that out to over two minutes by the turnaround point at halfway.

On track to break the 2:13:05 course record by more than two minutes. under sunny skies with temperatures climbing to 22C and nearly 80% humidity Kawauchi began to slow incrementally. Behind him, Johnstone Kibet Maiyo (Kenya) and Aredome Tiuyay Degefa (Ethiopia) separated from the chase pack and began to push each other in pursuit of the top spot. With every 5 km split the gap to Kawauchi narrowed. At 40 km Maiyo threw down to get rid of Degefa, blasting the dow…

Kawauchi and Kiyara Headline Wan Jin Shi Marathon

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) returns to Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon this Sunday for his marathon of the post-Yuta Shitara era. The runner-up in Wan Jin Shi in 2016, Kawauchi is ranked #1 in the field and comes to Wan Jin Shi with wins in his last three marathons but faces a solid field including fellow sub-2:10 man Peter Kiplagat Sitenei, last year's runner-up Tsegaye Debele (Ethiopia), and the only man to beat him last time around, 2016 winner and course record holder William Chebon Chebor (Kenya). Kawauchi plans to use the hilly race as a tune-up for his main marathon of the spring season, April's Boston Marathon.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rael Kiyara Nguriatukei (Kenya), winner of the 2012 Hamburg Marathon before being stripped of her title and suspended for a positive post-race test for norandrosterone, has the fastest recent time in the women's field with a 2:26:22 winning time at last year's Chongqing Marathon. Close behind is Chemtai …

Katanishi Scores Best-Ever Japanese Collegiate Placing at United Airlines NYC Half

Wearing bib #21 on his 21st birthday, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa University) turned in the best-ever Japanese collegiate placing at the United Airlines NYC Half, taking 7th in 1:03:05 just 26 seconds off the win.

Katanishi and his Komazawa teammate Shogo Ise earned invites to the NYC Half by taking the top two Japanese collegiate spots at last November's Ageo City Half Marathon. Off the tougher new New York course both Katanishi and Ise ran in the lead group for the first two-thirds of the race, Ise near the front and Katanishi biding his time at the back of the pack. When the first real move came on the uphill approaching Times Square Katanishi was quick to reposition himself into the top three just off the shoulder of leader Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.), staying in the action and looking smooth through the first set of Central Park hills. "I just took the early part easy and watched the others and what was going," Kat…