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Kawauchi Ends Year at Bitburger Silvesterlauf

by Brett Larner

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) wrapped up a tough 2015 at the Bitburger Silvesterlauf 8 km in Trier Germany on Dec. 31.  Hoping to set a new Japanese national record under 23:30, Kawauchi ran at the rear of the front pack led by Beijing Olympics 10000 m bronze medalist Micah Kogo (Kenya) on target pace through the first five of the course's eight 1 km loops through the narrow streets at the heart of the city center.  On the sixth lap Kawauchi tripped on a cobblestone and fell, struggling to pick himself up as Kogo sped away in a four-way international battle with Haymanot Ales (Ethiopia), Zakaria Boudad (Morocco) and Teklit Tesfahabr (Eritrea).

Kawauchi staggered over the final two laps, overtaken by runner after runner from the second pack and further back.  In the final sprint finish Ales won with a clear margin in 22:59, Boudad and Kogo coming in two seconds back.  Kawauchi finished over a minute later, gutted with nothing to show for his result but a minor improvement to his high school-era PB.  Although he finished well off the eight-deep podium, race organizers kindly invited him onstage during the award ceremony where he thanked the crowd in both English and German.

It wasn't the ending Kawauchi hoped for to a 2015 in which, largely through his own doing, he struggled to meet his goals after spraining his ankle at the end of December last year.  He did have bright moments: his first-ever marathons on back-to-back weekends, 2:15:16 for 8th at the Feb. 8 Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon and a 2:15:06 win at the Kochi Ryoma Marathon on Feb. 15, a season best 2:12:13 for 2nd at April's Zurich Marathon and a 6th place finish at November's TCS New York City Marathon, the best placing by a Japanese man in the World Marathon Majors this year tying the best-ever placing by a Japanese man in New York.  But by and large the decisions he made meant he had difficulty achieving what he hoped, killing the spring recovery he showed in Zurich with three half marathons in three days a week later and, most importantly, flaming out in his shot at the Olympic team at December's Fukuoka International Marathon which he ran despite having said publicly that he would not run Fukuoka if he ran poorly at September's Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, which he did.

Does 2016 hold a return to form?  Two weeks after Fukuoka he ran faster in Hofu, which left him very optimistic about the coming year.  He turned down an offer from the London Marathon in order to enter himself in the general division of the final Olympic selection race, March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, where he believes he can win even if doing so would still not put him on the Olympic team without a sub-2:06:30.  He hopes to join the exclusive club of five Japanese men who have won overseas marathons sub-2:10.  To run the 10th sub-2:10, 100th half marathon and 500th race of his career.  And, his major goal for the year, he hopes to win next year's Fukuoka International Marathon to make the 2017 London World Championships team which he intends to be his final time running for the Japanese national team.  A big year, hopefully with better things ahead.

Bitburger Silvesterlauf
Trier, Germany, 12/31/15
click here for complete results

Men's 8 km
1. Haymanot Ales (Ethiopia) - 22:59
2. Zakaria Boudad (Morocco) - 23:01
3. Micah Kogo (Kenya) - 23:01
4. Teklit Tesfaghabr (Eritrea) - 23:03
5. Patrick Ereng (Kenya) - 23:21
21. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) - 24:24

Women's 5 km
1. Amare Meskerem (Ethiopia) - 15:35
2. Maureen Koster (Netherlands) - 15:57
3. Derartu Debel Delesa (Ethiopia) - 16:09
4. Anna Holm Baumeister (Germany) - 16:10
5. Gesa Krause (Germany) - 16:13

Yuki Kawauchi's complete 2015 race results. Click any race for reports, videos, photos and detailed results.

Jan. 11: Ibusuki Nanohana Marathon, Kagoshima: 2:24:10 - 1st
Jan. 18: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto: 1:04:44 - 9th
Jan. 25: Okumusashi Ekiden, Saitama - DNS - sat out to rest sprained left ankle
Feb. 1: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama: 39:28 - 6th
Feb. 8: Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon, Miyazaki: 2:15:16 - 8th
Feb. 15: Kochi Ryoma Marathon, Kochi: 2:15:06 - 1st
Feb. 22: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:13:36 - 43rd
Mar. 1: Tachikawa City Half Marathon, Tokyo: 1:07:19 - 407th
Mar. 8: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto: 1:06:37 - 24th
Mar. 15: Seoul International Marathon, South Korea: 2:13:33 - 16th
Mar. 22: Kumagaya Sakura Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:04:41 - 1st
Mar. 29: Nerima Kobushi Half Marathon, Tokyo: 1:05:39 - 1st - CR
Apr. 5: Satte Sakura 10 Mile Road Race, Saitama: 49:20 - 1st - also ran 2 km family run after 10 miler 
Apr. 12: Honjo Waseda no Mori Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:07:47 - 1st
Apr. 19: Zurich Marathon, Switzerland: 2:12:13 - 2nd
Apr. 26: Sado Toki Half Marathon, Niigata: 1:06:16 - 1st - CR
Apr. 29: Challenge Meet in Kumagaya, Saitama:
            1500 m Heat 10: 3:54.31 - 5th
            5000 m Heat 5: 14:23.69 - 1st
May 3: Asagiriko Half Marathon, Ehime: 1:07:23 - 1st
May 4: Kasukabe Otako Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:07:03 - 1st
May 5: Toyohiragawa Half Marathon, Hokkaido: 1:09:23 - 1st
May 10: Sendai International Half Marathon, Miyagi: 1:08:36 - 30th
May 17: Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, Gifu: 1:06:16 - 24th
May 24: Kurobe Meisui Marathon, Toyama: 2:17:58 - 1st - CR
June 6: Saitama Prefecture Track and Field Championships 5000 m: 14:52.62 - 1st
June 7: Saitama Prefecture Track and Field Championships 1500 m:
            Heat 2: 3:59.47 - 2nd
            Final: 4:03.05 - 8th
June 13: Megamiko Cup Ekiden Third Stage (2.3 km), Nagano: 6:33 - 1st
June 14: Venus Half Marathon, Nagano: 1:10:39 - 1st
June 21: Okinoshima Ultramarathon 50 km, Shimane: 2:48:23 - 1st
June 27: Okushiri Moonlight Half Marathon, Hokkaido: 1:05:04 - 1st
July 5: Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Australia: 2:16:23 - 8th
July 12: Hokuren Distance Challenge Kitami Meet:
            1500 m B-heat: 3:51.99 - 5th
            5000 m B-heat: 14:20.56 - 33rd
July 26: Kushiro Shitsugen 30 km Road Race, Hokkaido: 1:35:08 - 1st
Aug. 7: Towada Hachimantai Ekiden Fourth Stage (16.4 km), Akita: 51:32 - 6th
Aug. 16: Hoppo Ryodo Nosappu Misaki Half Marathon, Hokkaido: 1:07:01 - 1st
Aug. 30: Perth City to Surf Marathon, Australia: 2:16:23 - 1st
Sept. 6: Nijuken Doro Half Marathon, Hokkaido: 1:05:32 - 1st
Sept. 20: Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, South Africa: 2:16:33 - 9th
Oct. 11: Kitakami Marathon, Iwate: 2:13:21 - 1st - CR
Oct. 18: Takashimadaira Road Race 20 km, Tokyo: 1:00:57 - 1st
Nov. 1: TCS New York City Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:13:29 - 6th
Nov. 15: Ageo City Half Marathon, Saitama: 1:03:11 - 5th
Dec. 6: Fukuoka International Marathon, Fukuoka: 2:12:48 - 8th
Dec. 20: Hofu Yomiuri Marathon, Yamaguchi: 2:12:24 - 2nd
Dec. 31: Bitburger Silvesterlauf 8 km, Germany: 24:24 - 21st

text and photo © 2015 Brett Larner
all rights reserved


Scott Brown said…
Anything I thought I knew about marathon running has been shattered by Yuki K so it would be foolish to bet against him. Just wish him and Japan Running News all the best for 2016. Happy New Year!!

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