Skip to main content

Historic Himeji Castle 10-Miler to Fold in Favor of Full Marathon Format

http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/sports/201309/0006363197.shtml

translated by Brett Larner

A favorite of athletes from junior high to the corporate leagues, Hyogo prefecture's Himeji Castle Road Race is set to be discontinued after February's 54th running.  With a new Himeji Castle World Heritage Site Marathon set to be launched in 2015, the 10-miler's race organization committee will be dismantled and the event's long history of hosting many of the country's best athletes will come to an end.

According to the Hyogo Prefecture Track and Field Association's 50th anniversary commemorative magazine, in 1948 there was a move to inaugurate a series of 10-mile road races in January in all the major cities of the country, but in 1960 the series came to a halt.  With Hyogo's event having been held at Himeji Castle since 1954 and having already developed a reputation as a fast course, it was relaunched in 1961 as the first Himeji Castle Road Race with a certified course under the auspices of the Kinki Track and Field Association.  The rest is history.

For corporate league and university men, the 10-mile division has been the main draw. Winners have included Tatsuya Moriguchi (Team Kobe Seiko), a member of the ill-fated Moscow Olympics men's long distance team, Hakone Ekiden star and now Waseda University head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe (Waseda Univ.), and men's marathon national record holder Toshinari Takaoka (Team Kanebo).

In 1990 other divisions were added to allow junior high school-aged runners to compete. London Olympics marathoner Ryo Yamamoto (Team Sagawa Express) and Beijing Olympics track runners Kensuke Takezawa (Team Sumitomo Denko) and Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) were among the countless local junior high school students to run, each of them scoring wins.

Hyogo Track and Field Association director Masaaki Uetsuki commented, "There's a touch of sadness about this decision, but this race has played its role in making Hyogo the home of Japanese distance running.  Now we want to support as wide a range of runners as possible and make the Himeji Castle Marathon as popular and successful as we can."

Comments

Most-Read This Week

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …

Guinness Certifies Kawauchi's World Record 78 Career Sub-2:20 Marathons After Half Marathon in Panda Costume

Known as the Civil Servant Runner, Saitama Prefectural Government employee Yuki Kawauchi's career record of 78 sub-2:20 marathons was officially recognized as the Guinness World Record at a ceremony in his hometown of Kuki, Saitama on Mar. 25.  Raised in Kuki, Kawauchi began working for the Saitama Prefectural Government after graduating from university. Running while working full-time as a civil servant, he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic trial race.

Earlier this month on the 18th Kawauchi ran Taiwan's Wan Jin Shi Marathon, winning in 2:14:12. His 78th time running faster than 2 hours and 20 minutes, his achievement was certified as the official Guinness World Record. He actually broke the previous record on Jan. 1 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon in the U.S.A. with his 76th sub-2:20 but followed up with two performances, one in February and the other last week, before Guinness could ratify the record.

The official recognition ceremony took place Mar. 2…