Skip to main content

Fujiwara to Face Kawauchi at Gold Coast Airport Marathon

by Brett Larner
Fujiwara photo c/o Arata Project
Kawauchi photo by Arata Fujiwara

For its first running as an IAAF gold label event, Australia's Gold Coast Airport Marathon has announced that 2:07:48 Olympian Arata Fujiwara (Miki House) will face his greatest rival, defending Gold Coast champion and course record co-holder Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't), at this year's race on July 6.  As the two independents who have changed the face of modern Japanese men's marathoning, Fujiwara and Kawauchi should bring the fireworks to light up one of the summer's best races.  Or winter, depending on your point of view.

The only Japanese man in the last 27 years to win a marathon outside Japan sub-2:10, Fujiwara had a nearly undefeated record against Kawauchi going into last fall, starting the season by beating him at the Great North Run and Hakodate Half Marathon.  Since then he's had three straight losses, losing to Kawauchi at Fukuoka, the Sendai Half and the Gifu Seiryu Half along with weak results at the Marugame Half and Tokyo Marathon in February after coming down with the flu.  Appearing with support from JRN, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon is the first marathon Fujiwara is running as part of a two-year training plan to take him to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and after the dry spell he has gone through he is looking to get things flowing again with another sub-2:10 overseas win the way he likes it best, ahead of Kawauchi.

Kawauchi comes into the race with momentum, tying the 2:10:01 CR last year and setting four marathon course records so far this year along with a 2:09:36 at May's Hamburg Marathon that made him the first Japanese man in history to go sub-2:10 seven times in his career.  Achieving what he missed last year, a sub-2:10 win on foreign soil, would put him into the exclusive five-man club of which Fujiwara is already a member, and there is nobody he'd like to beat more to get there.  Kawauchi may be the favorite, but with a minority two wins against Fujiwara in five marathons to date it won't be easy.  Whoever crosses the line first, the course record is bound to fall, and the chances look good that the ancient 2:09:18 Australian all-comers' record set in 1982 by the great Rob de Castella will finally go.

In the weeks before the race look for a full field preview and an exclusive talk on JRN with Fujiwara about his training in Kenya for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon.  JRN will be on-site at the race, so look also for more original coverage throughout race weekend.

text (c) 2014 Brett Larner, all rights reserved
Kawauchi photo (c) 2013 Arata Fujiwaraall rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Kawauchi Breaks Sub-2:20 World Record in Sub-Zero Temperatures

Battling freezing temperatures and wind chill that took things down to -23C, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran a 2018 world-leading 2:18:59 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, taking 30 minutes off the course record and breaking American Doug Kurtis' historic sub-2:20 world record with his 76th career sub-2:20.

Kawauchi spent Dec. 29 to 31 training on the Boston Marathon course ahead of his upcoming appearance as part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team and planned to run Marshfield at the tail end of his trip. The Marshfield Road Runners club, organizers of the marathon, had their longstanding race USATF certified ahead of his appearance.


Wearing full-length tights in a marathon for the first time, in Marshfield Kawauchi planned to run the first of the hilly course's two laps in 1:09 flat to give himself room to work with in breaking 2:20. But in the wind and cold he struggled to stay on pace, ice crystals coating his face as he hit halfway in 1:10:29…

Aoyama Gakuin Runs Down Toyo for Fourth-Straight Hakone Ekiden Title

In a rare reversal of Day One standings, Aoyama Gakuin University ran down Toyo University early in on Day Two to win its fourth-straight Hakone Ekiden title. At both the Izumo Ekiden and National University Men's Ekiden this season, Toyo struggled to cope with the absence of its entire senior class due to injury, running up front much of the way but lacking the depth to keep the lead in the final stages. Hakone played out like an opera-scale version of the same familiar story, its brilliant Day One win backlit by the headlights of rapidly approaching fate.

Second on Day Two's opening stage, the 20.8 km Sixth Stage with around 800 m elevation loss, both of the last two years, AGU 3rd-year Yuji Onoda just missed the course record en route as he ran down Toyo's Shunsuke Imanishi and put AGU almost a minute ahead by the time he handed off. AGU's next two runners Keisuke Hayashi and Yuta Shimoda both won their stages, Hayashi, a relative unknown on the roster, running 1:0…