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Kawauchi Breaks Two World Records With Kochi Ryoma Marathon Win

by Brett Larner

Running marathons on back-to-back weekends for the first time, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) improved on his 2:15:16 8th-place finish at last weekend's Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon with a 2:15:06 win at the 69th edition of the Kochi Ryoma Marathon.

Still recovering the fitness lost to a month off serious training after spraining his ankle in late December, Kawauchi found an unexpected challenge from Tatsuya Itagaki (Team JP Post), a 2:22:19 marathoner who went through halfway right next to him on 2:12 marathon pace.  Things slowed down in the uphill second half, Itagaki lasting until 27 km before a surge from Kawauchi put him away. From there Kawauchi was free all the way to the end, his 2:15:06 missing the course record by 42 seconds.  Itagaki was rewarded for a brave first half with a new best of 2:18:56.

Kawauchi's win marked his 35th career sub-2:16 marathon and 37th sub-2:17.  Both marks surpassed the world records held by Ethiopian great Abebe Mekonnen, who over the course of 14 years ran 34 sub-2:16s and 36 sub-2:17s.  In Kawauchi's case it took just under 5 years.  With fast overseas marathons planned in Seoul next month and Zurich in April Kawauchi is only one run away from tying Swede Kjell-Erik Stahl's record of 41 sub-2:18 marathons and two races from Mekonnen's sub-2:13, 2:14 and 2:15 records.  At this rate he's on track to truly go where no one ever has, or will again.

(c) 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Brett Larner said…
According to the ARRS' Ken Young, while some lists credit Stahl with 39 sub-2:17 marathons they include several performances on short courses and that Mekonnen's total of 36 should be considered accurate.
Absolument phénoménal !
Scott Brown said…
"All will again"! is a great ending to that article. Hard to imagine we'll see someone like him again. Love to follow his going ons. I bet he has some surprises for us yet! Great stuff!!

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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.

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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
           …