Wednesday, June 4, 2014

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

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