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Lake Biwa 3rd-Place Mwangi Returning to Kenya After 12 Years in Japan

http://mainichi.jp/sports/news/20130302k0000m050067000c.html

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.

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Lexicon

Betsudai - the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon
daigaku - university
ekiden - a long-distance relay race
faito - a courseside audience cheer; see ganbatte
ganbatte (ganbare) - a courseside audience cheer; see faito
gasshuku - an intensive training camp
Hakone Ekiden - the annual university men`s championships
jitsugyodan - corporate-sponsored professional running teams
onsen - a hot spring
Q-chan - Naoko Takahashi, the 2000 Sydney Olympics women`s marathon gold medalist, Olympic record holder and first woman to break 2:20 in the marathon
rikujo - track and field, the marathon, and other running events
Rikuren - the JAAF
tasuki - the sash which is handed off during an ekiden
zannen - too bad
otaku - a nerdy, socially awkward person, usually male, who is obsessed with some esoteric topic

Race Entries

Races in Japan usually close entry at least a month beforehand, often much longer. They generally do not have race day entry and race organizers are not willing to make special exceptions for foreigners. If you are coming to Japan for, say, a business trip in two weeks, it is not possible to enter a race. If you are making longer-range plans then it may be possible to find a suitable event using the following services:

Samurai Running Japan is a long-standing entry service that focuses on smaller races to help overseas visitors "experience the 'real' Japan."  Along with entry it assists with accommodations and transportation.

Launched in September, 2015, Runnet Japan is an English-language branch of Runnet, Japan's dominant online entry service, catering to the international community.  The number of races offered on Runnet Japan is still limited but constantly expanding.

Other entry services like Sports Entry, TecNet and the new Sportsnavi Do still offer only Ja…

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