Monday, December 1, 2014

Kawauchi Just Misses Scoring Weekend Saitama Double, Hattori to Make Marathon Debut in Tokyo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 3rd Hasuda Road Race took place Saturday, Nov. 29 on a course around Kurohama Park in Hasuda, Saitama, with around 3000 people showing their stuff in the event's 10 km and 3 km races.  The official representative of Saitama prefecture, civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi was back again in the 3 km this year for the third-straight time, first across the finish line in 8:47 after running 8:50 last year and 8:44 two years ago in Hasuda's first running.  Before and after the race he was all smiles, high fiving other runners all around.  "I love this course," he said.  "It's always great to run here."

3 km participant Mitsuyo Kubo of Iruma, Saitama, commented, "I get to meet a fantastic runner like Mr. Kawauchi, so I enter this race every year."  For the first time the Hasuda Road Race featured a candy contest where runners could try different confections and vote for their favorite.  Kawauchi appeared at the Asahi Sports booth post-race, posing for countless pictures with his fellow runners.

A day later Kawauchi returned to the Koedo Kawagoe Half Marathon in Kawagoe, Saitama, where he set a course record of 1:04:44 last year.  This year he ran against Yuma Hattori of Saitama's own 2014 Hakone Ekiden champion Toyo University.  Hattori, 21, who took more than a minute off Kawauchi's course record to set the 30 km national university record of 1:28:52 at February's Kumanichi Road Race, got the better of Kawauchi, 27, in their first head-to-head race, winning in a new CR of 1:03:37 with Kawauchi 2nd in 1:03:39.

Hattori, a third-year at Toyo and its star member, get extra motivation for Toyo's shot at a title defense at the 2015 Hakone Ekiden on Jan. 2-3 and for his marathon debut at February's Tokyo Marathon from beating 2014 Incheon Asian Games marathon bronze medalist Kawauchi.  Closely matched for the first 20 km, Kawauchi was pushed to his limits by the high-potential young Hattori.  Regularly training at 3:00 / km pace, Hattori led start to finish with Kawauchi in tow.  Kawauchi made a move to drop him with 1 km to go, but Hattori quickly returned to take the win by two seconds.  "He kind of gave me the win," Hattori laughed after the race.  "If I run in front the whole way there's no way I'm going to let you go ahead of me at the end."  Doing an extra 10 km on days when the rest of the Toyo team has done 30 km in training, Hattori was positive about making the jump from the Hakone Ekiden and his 30 km collegiate record to the marathon, saying, "My training has been going steadily."

Post-race Kawauchi appeared on-stage with other special guests to talk to race participants.  Asked about the secret of his ability to stay injury-free Kawauchi explained carefully, "Since I've started working full-time I've never had an injury that forced me to take more than three or more days off.  I start off with icing.  After the race I don't make do with just walking but instead jog, gradually picking up the pace to my usual jogging speed.  If it still feels like my legs are going to hurt after that then I take one or maybe two days off.  Like any serious person it makes me feel guilty to take time off."

Appearing alongside Kawauchi on-stage after running the race, comedian Hiroshi Neko invited Kawauchi to appear on his talk show.  Kawauchi politely declined, saying, "Yeah, well....I think I'm a little too frayed around the edges for that."

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