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Kawauchi Breaks Own Course Record at Fukushima's Kawauchi no Sato Kaeru Half Marathon

https://mainichi.jp/articles/20170501/ddl/k07/050/032000c

translated and edited by Brett Larner


The second running of the Kawauchi no Sato Kaeru Half Marathon took place April 30 in the village of Kawauchi, Fukushima. 1500 runners from across the country traversed the roads through mountains in full spring bloom and enjoyed the villagers' hospitality. The event had its beginnings in a local elementary school student saying, "I want to do something to convey the goodness of our village to the outside world." 1200 people took part in its first running last year.

As a result of the huge response to its success, 300 locals joined the village cheering section this year. The welcome runners receive from every member of the local community is unique to the village of Kawauchi. Along the course local elementary school students performed yosakoi synchronized dancing and cheered runners on, and in the finish area members of the Village Women's Society served bowls of hot pork soup.


Sharing his name with the village, London World Championships marathon team member Yuki Kawauchi (30) and women's marathoner Kaori Yoshida (35) both took part as special guests. Kawauchi broke his own course record to win the half marathon in 1:05:31, with Yoshida winning the women's 10 km in 36:09. According to the ARRS database, this was Kawauchi's 69th time running under 1:06:00, a new world record.

Sendai-area company worker Kimihiko Sato, 51, took part in the half marathon.  Wiping the sweat from his brow he commented, "The warm and enthusiastic support along the course made it a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the peaceful scenery.  I want to run it again."

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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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Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

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At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

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
           …