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Japanese Men's 100 m History

With Japan chomping at the bit to see its first-ever sub-10 clocking in the men's 100 m, Twitter user @touchdown_time put together the following list showing every time Japanese men have broken 10.10. The left column shows legal performances and the right column wind-aided times, with the fastest time by each athlete to have done it marked in yellow.


What's notable is that of the twelve men to have broken 10.10 with legal wind, four did it for the first time in June this year. At the time of Japan's 4x100 m silver medal last summer at the Rio Olympics only team members Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) and Ryota Yamagata (Seiko) and alternate Kei Takase (Fujitsu) had run faster than 10.10. After third Rio member Aska Cambridge (Nike) dropped a wind-aided 9.98 earlier in the season its fourth man Shota Iizuka (Mizuno), known more as a 200 m specialist, started the streak off with a 10.08 (+1.9) on June 4. Less than a week later 20-year-old newcomer Shuhei Tada (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) exploded onto the scene with a 9.94 (+4.5) and 10.08 (+1.9) to equal Iizuka. Two weeks later at the National Championships Cambridge did it for real, running 10.08 (-0.9) to bring the entire Rio team under 10.10, but he and the others were upstaged by another young talent as 18-year-old Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) ran 10.05 (+0.6), winning the national title.

Just a year out from Rio only one of its silver medal winning 4x100 m team members will be back in the 100 m, Cambridge being joined by the younger Sani Brown and Tada with Kiryu named only to the 4x100 m team. Things move fast. The sudden surge in the number of people coming close has upped the excitement levels in Japan over the possibility of a sub-10, bringing the sense that it's almost an inevitability, more just a question of who's going to get there first. Life's never that easy, but it's an exciting time, and one tinged with the hint of something golden just a few years away.

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Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

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
           …

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.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…