translated by Brett Larner
Saitama Prefectural Government civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi professional impersonator athlete Takashi M. (28), has announced that he intends hold a special "Mt. Fuji Prayer Marathon" on Aug. 15 to pray at the peak of Mt. Fuji for a Kawauchi victory in Saturday's Moscow World Championships Marathon. He intends to run up the World Heritage Site mountain to Fuji Sengen Shrine at its sacred summit to offer his prayers, saying that since he cannot cheer Kawauchi on in person he wants to send his voice westward from the peak of the mountain that is the envy of the rest of the world.
Takashi M. regularly appears as Kawauchi at marathons and ekidens across Japan, gaining a reputation as the country's leading "comedian runner." A graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, where he was the team's manager while a student, he has long known both Kawauchi and marathon great Mari Tanigawa. With Kawauchi having earned his second-straight World Championships team placing, Takashi M. thought, "I have to do something to cheer him on in my own personal style." After some thought, he settled on the run up the World Heritage Site Mt. Fuji. "I will send Kawauchi all my support from atop Japan's greatest mountain," he said.
The World Championships marathon starts 3:30 p.m. local time on Aug. 17, 8:30 p.m. Japan time, from Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Takashi M.'s plan calls for him to start up Mt. Fuji early on the morning of Aug. 15 from Subashiri Sengen Shrine on the Subashiri Route on the mountain's Shizuoka side. With the distance from there to the summit being around 20 km, the run will end up being exactly the same distance as a half marathon. With Subashiri Sengen Shrine and the Subashiri Route included in the mountain's World Heritage Site registration, Takashi M. said, "This is the best route for offering my prayers for victory." At the peak, he will write his wishes for Kawauchi's success on a special votive made to commemorate Mt. Fuji's registration as a World Heritage Site, leaving the votive at Fuji Sengen Shrine.
Takashi M. is also involved in organizing the Akiba Entertainment Marathon around the Imperial Palace on Sept. 8, a charity event to raise funds for HIV/AIDS research and awareness among runners. Kawauchi's younger brother Yoshiki Kawauchi will also run.