Skip to main content

Kawauchi Caps Sixteen Weeks of Racing with All-Time Top Ten 2:47:27 Japanese 50 km National Record (updated)

by Brett Larner

Update: It appears that the IAAF's World Running website has lifted the content of this article and the linked Kawauchi Counter without permission or credit for their own piece on Kawauchi's unofficial NR published a day after this article.  I've contacted them asking for clarification of their authorship and sources.

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) capped sixteen straight weeks of racing with another shot at the longest distance in his repertoire. For the fourth-straight year Kawauchi returned to his late father’s home island of Okinoshima to pay his respects by running the Father’s Day Okinoshima 50 km Ultramarathon. Two years ago Kawauchi honored him by running 2:51:45, the fastest time ever by a Japanese man over a distance for which the Japanese Federation does not have an official national record. This year Kawauchi himself was honored by the residents of Okinoshima, who held a new children’s race the day before the ultra with the winner presented with the first edition of the Kawauchi Cup trophy.

Of his own race on a hot and hilly course that put him in the hospital 300 m from the finish three years ago Kawauchi spoke cautiously beforehand, saying that his goal was, “to finish feeling good,” and telling JRN, “Okinoshima is a little dangerous [to my upcoming race plans] so I’m going to take it conservatively.” All that seemed to go out the window once he started running. Despite the heat maximized by the 11:30 a.m. start time and the three 150 m - 200 m tall hills and with only his father’s memory for company, Kawauchi blazed a new 2:47:27 Japanese record, officially called so or not, four minutes better than the old record he set in 2012 and the seventh-fastest time ever run, one that positioned him as the sixth-fastest man ever over 50 km. “It was a tough race,” he said, “but I’m glad I made it to all-time #7.”

It’s worth noting that the linked list does not accept two fast times run by American Josh Cox and recognized by USATF, both marathons followed by running to a local track and doing some laps to make up the distance, as legit race performances and that including them would put Kawauchi’s mark at all-time #9. But Cox or no Cox, getting into the all-time top ten on a hard course without focusing or planning for a record shot has put up a new target for Kawauchi. “I’d like to run Lake Saroma [Japan’s premier ultra] and go for the 50 km world record,” he told JRN. Kawauchi already holds world records for the shortest time ever between sub-2:09 marathons, between sub-2:10 marathons, and for most sub-2:10 marathons in one year, but the chance to get a straight-up world record, to become the fastest person ever over one distance, has to be a powerful motivation for things to come.

But in the short term Kawauchi will take a weekend off racing for the first time since February before going to the other end of his spectrum for a 1500 m at the Saitama Track and Field Championships. A week later he returns to Australia’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon to try to become the sixth Japanese man to win a marathon outside Japan sub-2:10. Trying to stop him will be the fifth man to do it, 2010 Ottawa Marathon course record-setter Arata Fujiwara (Miki House).

(c) 2014 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

RUNssel said…
That dude is a HERO! Always stoked…

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…