Skip to main content

Discarding Hakone Dreams in a Straight Shot for the Olympics, the Next Generation's Next Big Thing Chihiro Miyawaki Ready for Marathon Debut

http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/event/tokyomarathon/list/CK2014022002000195.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Running from City Hall to Tokyo Big Sight, the Tokyo Marathon takes place on Feb. 23.  A part of the world's ultimate series, the World Marathon Majors, and the biggest marathon in Asia, Tokyo attracts the best from around the world.  Highly anticipated to be the "golden boy" of the buildup to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, 22-year-old Chihiro Miyawaki (Team Toyota), already all-time Japanese #4 for the half marathon and #7 for 10000 m, will make his marathon debut in Tokyo.  Having gone straight into the jitsugyodan corporate team world after graduating from high school without passing through the Hakone Ekiden he is something of a secret weapon, but on the streets of the Japanese capital he is now ready to throw off the veil.

Miyawaki's gentle, meek smile conceals the tenacity of an underdog's soul.  He is a runner with a modern, multifaceted way of thinking.  He joined the Toyota corporate team in 2010 after graduating from Chukyo H.S. in Gifu, never getting to run the hallowed Hakone Ekiden.  Or rather, he chose not to.  "Hakone is...to be honest, I never had any interest in it," he says with a laugh.  "Ever since I was little, I never even wanted to watch it on TV."  Even now, his eyes shine when Miyawaki says, "More than, 'Let's do Hakone,' the words 'world class' have a lot more appeal to me."

Before graduating from high school he had recruitment offers from countless Kanto-region universities that focus on Hakone, but Miyawaki chose the road of the corporate runner.  The reason?  The words of Toyota head coach Toshinobu Sato resonated deeply within Miyawaki: "Let's go after the best in the world together."  In high school he was nothing special, eliminated in the heats when he made the National meet, but even so he was picked up by Toyota.  That opened up new possibilities within Miyawaki of going "where I hadn't even considered."

Once he made up his mind and charted his path, Miyawaki's talent immediately began to blossom, developing rapidly after joining the Toyota team.  His first year he ran a solid 4th on the New Year Ekiden's First Stage, helping Toyota to win its first-ever team title.  His second year he went right to the cusp of becoming world-class.

At the 2012 National Track and Field Championships he placed 3rd in the 10000 m, a razor-thin two seconds from grabbing the London Olympics ticket snatched away by winner Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin).  At this year's New Year Ekiden he ran the Fourth Stage against the corporate league's best Japanese men, beating Sato and Moscow World Championships marathon 5th-placer Kentaro Nakamoto (Team Yasukawa Denki) to win the stage.  The same age as current university seniors, Miyawaki has climbed to the same level as the nation's best, laying the foundations for his marathon debut.

"I'm as surprised as anybody," he says.  "Right on track the times and distances I can handle have progressed, and next is the marathon.  In Rio I want to run the marathon, not track.  I don't think I can compete with the best on the track, and if I go there it won't be just to be there."

The "Golden Generation" of Suguru Osako (Waseda University), twins Keita and Yuta Shitara (Toyo University), Shinobu Kubota (Komazawa University) and others are all graduating simultaneously this spring.  They will all be 29 years old the season of the 2020 Olympics, their generation's ultimate heyday.  The road he walks is different from theirs, but Miyawaki's focus point as he looks ahead is the same.  "I don't want to lose to other guys my age.  I want to compete with them to run in the Rio Olympics, then win a medal in the Tokyo Olympics."  With an ultimate goal of winning a medal on the same capital city streets six years distant, Miyawaki starts his journey on Sunday.

Chihiro Miyawaki
Born Aug. 28, 1991 in Komagane, Nagano.  22 years old, 175 cm, 55 kg.  He began running seriously in junior high school, attending Chukyo H.S. in Gifu before joining the Toyota corporate team.  His hobby is driving.

PBs:
5000 m: 13:35.74     10000 m: 27:41.57 (all-time Japanese #7)
half-marathon: 1:00:53 (all-time Japanese #4)     30 km: 1:29:51

Comments

Anna Novick said…
The theme of successful runners I'm seeing in Japan seems to be less about running Hakone or not, and more about whether the athlete has the self-awareness to know what they want and initiative to figure out how best to reach their goal. For many Japanese runners, Hakone makes sense, or at least, is what they want, and some do see it, and are successful at using it, as a stepping stone to becoming a world class athlete. I'm sure there are other young runners who don't even know that there are options other than Hakone to become a world class runner, even if the new way doesn't include the supported transition from scholar athlete to elite/professional athlete that is the collegiate-jitugyodan system. This reminds me of Mary Cain going pro instead of running NCAA, and Galen Rupp not immediately running in the NCAAs. Good to see young athletes on both US and Japanese turfs feel empowered to make a choice that suits what they want.

Most-Read This Week

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…

“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…