by Toshinari Takaoka, Japanese men's marathon national record holder and Kanebo head coach
translated by Brett Larner
This race brought together all of Kawauchi's past experience. The first half was slower than expected, and the pacers dropped out earlier than scheduled. Most of the other runners were forced to make difficult decisions, but, accustomed to facing the unexpected, Kawauchi was able to make the right ones.
The race began just before 25 km, a point where it's very hard to feel like, "Time to race!" You could see the strength of his feeling, and he more than demonstrated that he has no shortage of the most important ingredient, tenacity.
Counterintuitively, I think that the setbacks caused by his injuries may have freed him from pressure. As we saw last year at Fukuoka International when he was too focused on making the Olympic team, when he is feeling good there is more pressure. This time he looked relaxed and refreshed standing on the start line.
If he makes the World Championships, his biggest advantage will be his experience. However, as he is an athlete who races to train, conditioning will be crucial. If he peaks for it and shows even greater tenacity and patience then there is a chance he can make it to the top.