Skip to main content

Catching Up With Arata Fujiwara

by Brett Larner


2:07:48 marathoner and London Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) is one of seven Japanese athletes running next week’s Great North Run half marathon in the U.K. with support from JRN. Out of competition with injury since a memorable run at last December’s Fukuoka International Marathon, the Great North Run will be Fujiwara’s first race of 2013. On Sept. 3 JRN met up with Fujiwara at his training base in St. Moritz, Switzerland. While doing a 33 km trail run together starting at 1772 m and peaking at 2755 m, we chatted about his current condition and plans for the upcoming season.

Are you an E.L.O. fan?  That's what I was listening to the whole way up here. "Mr. Blue Sky" came on just before the train pulled into St. Moritz station, appropriately enough.
No, I don't really know them.  I've been listening to a lot of early Pink Floyd lately.

How long have you been up here?
About a month. I needed to get away and focus for a while.

How are you feeling?
Great. When I got here I was about 8 kg overweight and was so out of shape I could barely run, but everything is back to normal and I don’t have any trouble with the injury.

After New York in 2010 you had a long-lasting injury that kept you out for about a year. Was this a repeat of the same injury?
No, this was a different one in my left hamstrings and hip. This kind of injury takes a long time and some people can take years to get over it. I’m back to normal, though.

Have you been training alone?
No, I’ve been doing track workouts with Viktor Rothlin and some longer hard runs with a couple of Switzerland-based Ethiopians, Tolossa Chengere and Nesero Kadi. Tolossa's married to a Swiss woman and is here most of the time. Viktor’s gone now, though, so I’m more on my own, sometimes with the Ethiopians.

Have there been any other Japanese runners around?
Just Eri Hayakawa (Team Toto). I’ve seen a couple of big Americans around too. They look pretty strong and have really good form.

What kind of workouts have you been doing?
A lot of track intervals and long trail runs like this. When I first got here I walked this course in about ten hours, then came out the next day and ran it in four. Last week I did 12 x 1000 m in 2:50 with Viktor. He couldn’t finish them but I got through no problem. Yesterday I did a 20 km buildup with Tolossa and Kadi, starting at 3:30/km and working down to 3:10. That was the first time in a long time that I’ve really felt like my running was on-target inside. I’m going to take tomorrow off and then the day after that it’s a 15 km buildup with Tolossa and Kadi going from 3:20/km to 3:05. I think the Great North Run is going to go pretty well.

What are you hoping to run?
I think I’m in shape to run about 1:02:30. With Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Tomohiro Tanigawa  (Team Konica Minolta) there I’ll see how it goes. If Tanigawa goes for sub-62 I’ll probably follow along with him. Mostly I’m just really happy and excited to be getting back out racing again. It’s been nine months! That’s long enough to make me feel a little nervous about being back on the start line.

How many times have you run that kind of time in your career? Four?
I think I’ve run 62 three times, plus the 61 at Marugame. But in marathon training I regularly run 20 km pace runs in 59 minutes, so in reality I’ve done it many more times than that.

Who have you got for the Big Three at the Great North Run?
It’s really an incredible matchup, Farah, Bekele and Gebrselassie. I don’t know what Bekele can do over that kind of distance, but I’d have to go with Farah. Man, that’s really a race I’d like to watch on T.V.!

It seems like the best place to watch would be from right behind them.
(laughs) Yeah, well, I’ll see what I can do. How many times has Farah run half marathons?

I think this is his third time. He ran low-60 in New York in his first one with Galen Rupp right behind him.
Rupp. How come U.S. distance running has gotten so strong all of a sudden?

It’s that Salazar magic.
Hmmn.

What’s next after the Great North Run?
Fukuoka. I’m going to run 2:07 there. A year late, but better late than never. I was going to race overseas this fall but the level among Japanese men has come way up lately so I need to get back in there and show them what’s what. And Kawauchi says he’s running Fukuoka too to try to get onto the Asian Games team, so I have to go mix things up for him. (laughs) One of my targets for the winter and spring is to break Toshinari Takaoka’s record of six career sub-2:10’s. I only need two more. At this stage I know that I could run sub-2:10 pretty much any time I wanted. I could do it right now, or sometime in the fall, but I’m just going to focus on running a good one in Fukuoka.

Kawauchi wants Jaouad Gharib’s record of fourteen career sub-2:10’s.
I could do that too, no problem. However many Kawauchi ends up running, I’ll do two more. (laughs)


text and photos (c) 2013 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Scott Brown said…
Fantastic interview! Good to know what's been happening with him. Looking forward to the next few races too.

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…

'$500,000 USD Prized Asian Premier Marathon Series 2017-18 Launched in Beijing'

http://athleticsasia.org/index.php/k2-component/143-500-000-usd-prized-asian-premier-marathon-series-2017-18-launched-in-beijing

A very interesting World Marathon Majors-style development with prize money only for Asian athletes. Equally interesting is the absence of a Japanese race in the series. Japanese marathoners would dominate the series if they ran its three component races, their only real current competition in Asia coming from East African-born Bahraini athletes.

Hayakawa and Ichiyama Win Shibetsu Half

2nd in 2015 and 3rd last year, Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) finally succeeded in scoring 1st at the Shibetsu Half Marathon, outrunning 2013-14 winner Masato Imai (Toyota Kyushu) by 6 seconds to win in 1:03:38. Hayakawa pushed it from the early stages of the race, Imai the only one to try to stay with him but ultimately losing touch. 2016 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Melaku Abera (Kurosaki Harima) was 3rd in 1:03:51.

士別ハーフマラソン
日差しが強くなってきました…💦 pic.twitter.com/qRfUei3aRt — はたのまき (@machakin77) July 23, 2017
The women's field was split between two distances, 10 km and half marathon. Kanako Takemoto (Daihatsu) won the 10 km in 34:27 by a margin of almost 10 seconds over an Otsuka Seiyaku trio led by Ayaka Inoue. 2017 National Cross-Country champion and last year's 10 km runner-up Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) took the top spot in the half marathon, outrunning teammate and national record holder Kayoko Fukushi and others to win in 1:14:01. Fukushi finished 4th in 1:15:41 behind last ye…