translated and edited by Brett Larner
Following his 3rd-place 2:08:48 finish at the Mar. 3 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, James Mwangi, 28, is moving back to his native Kenya after twelve years in Japan running for Aomori Yamada H.S. and Team NTN. He has chosen to move to support his wife, who is in poor health, but Mwangi plans to continue to devote himself to marathon training in Kenya. "To show my gratitude to all those who have supported me I want to ultimately end up a champion."
Lake Biwa was Mwangi's eighth marathon. He came to Japan in 2001. While at Aomori Yamada H.S. his achievements included winning the 800 m at the National High School Championships, and following his graduation he joined the corporate league in 2004. The memory he holds dearest from his 12 years in Japan is of seeing snow for the first time in his life on the very first day he arrived in Aomori. The next day with snowbanks taller than himself lining the roads he banged out 25 km. "Coach Nikaido cared about my dreams and life and brought me up strictly," he recalls. The educational standards expected of him were tough, and he had to adapt to Japanese food whether he liked it or not.
At the 2011 Fukuoka International Marathon Mwangi finished 2nd in a PB of 2:08:38, but with a marathon career that has included four DNFs in eight starts to date he has had his share of particularly serious ups and downs. Even at this past December's Fukuoka International he dropped out after 30 km. To prepare for Lake Biwa, Mwangi spent two months back in Kenya training with world record holder Patrick Makau. His dream is to make the Kenyan Olympic team three years from now. "My result in Lake Biwa will help carry me on to that dream," he said. In the same way, his gratitude to the past will help inform his future as a human being.