Skip to main content

Kawauchi and Team Leave for London - "Almost Time to Do Battle"

Japanese national team captain Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) left from Tokyo's Haneda Airport on July 30 for next week's London World Championships. Having declared that this will be his last time wearing the Rising Sun, the "Civil Servant Runner" Kawauchi told reporters, "It's almost time to do battle. I will give it all for Japan, and when it's all said and done I want to be able to return home with a smile on my face."

Having run in Daegu in 2011 and Moscow in 2013 this will be Kawauchi's third time at the World Championships. In both of his previous appearances he was 18th. For the last four months he has trained seriously, doing over 600 km a month and going over 700 km in July. His final preparations have gone well. Kawauchi trained in Nikko up until the day before departure, running his best times ever there. "My racing, training and times are all better than for Moscow," he said. His sunburned and somewhat weathered face testified to the truth of his words.

Now 30, Kawauchi faces this marathon with unprecedented determination. "The marathon transcends like or dislike. It is my life. If I didn't run marathons it would be the same as dying. What I live for is the marathon, and as long as I am alive, that's what I'm going to do." The starting gun for the biggest race of his life goes off Aug. 6.


Official pre-departure comments from Japanese men's marathon team

Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) - qualifying race: 2:09:11 (3rd, Fukuoka Int'l 2016) / PB: 2:08:14 (4th, Seoul 2013)

Now that the day of departure has arrived it feels like it was a long time coming. It feels like it's almost time to do battle in London. I've felt all along that I want to bring everything that I've learned and achieved into play in London, and all of my preparations have been geared toward that. Right now everything feels extremely good. I want to keep that feeling right up until the race, and in the end I want to be able to smile and say, "I did it, I gave it all for Japan," when I return home.

In terms of a time goal, as I've said all along, I haven't set one. I think that the race will get faster and slower in its natural flow, and what's more important than the final time is the finishing place. A medal, somehow.....If all three of perform as a team at a level where we're running for top eight then there is a very good chance one of us will be up in the medals. As the Japanese team we intend for all three of us to be top eight, and as I am one of those three myself I have to perform seriously.

In both of my previous World Championships I blew it by falling too far behind in the first half. This time I want to completely avoid wasting energy responding to surges up front, at least through halfway. I hope to keep things relaxed and hit halfway with energy to spare, and after halfway depending on the way the race has shaped up I want to take some initiative so that it doesn't come down to a race over the last 2 or 3 km.

Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) - qualifying race / PB: 2:08:22 (8th, Tokyo 2017)

After the Tokyo Marathon I had a little time to take it slow, and from there it's been pretty much business as usual, just straightforwardly training toward London. I was especially aware on the ups and downs on the London course and hard road surfaces, so I've focused on strengthening my legs to handle that. In terms of my condition I'd say I'm pretty much at 100%. The training is done, so I think the most important thing now is just to get myself on the starting line in the best shape mentally and emotionally.

This is the first time I've gotten to wear the Rising Sun uniform and team suit, and standing here now wearing the suit it reaffirms to me that I'm a representative of Japan, and that raises the tension. But more than that there's a feeling of curiosity, of, "What's it going to feel like to be [at the World Championships]." Watching it on TV and actually experiencing it are probably totally different. I'm really excited to feel it for myself and can't wait.

The other two guys I'll be running with have experience and achievements that I don't. I want to learn everything I can from them about how to spend the last days before the race and whatnot and emulate them where I can. On race day they'll be my teammates, but also my rivals, and I have no intention of being beaten. I'm ready to take them on. This time I'm thinking about place more than time. If I go for a medal or even top eight then I think the time will come with it. To medal or made top eight you'll probably need to go sub-2:10 or even 2:08 in a summer race. I want to make that happen.

Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) - qualifying race: 2:09:32 (1st, Beppu-Oita 2017) / PB: 2:08:35 (2nd, Beppu-Oita 2013)

I'm very, very happy to have made it back to the World Championships for the first time in four years.  At the same time as a representative of Japan there's a lot of pressure, so even as I enjoy myself I want to run a serious race in London. I haven't set a clear time goal for this race, instead focusing on running in a way that will get me inside the top eight. I plan on the upper end of that range. [After finishing 6th at the London Olympics and 5th at the Moscow World Championships] there's a lot of expectation that I'll deliver results like in the past. I think that being here as a national representative means I have to do even better.

This is the third time I've run the World Championships together with Kawauchi. Having him around gives me peace of mind. [laughs] The media jumps all over whatever he says. I'm not very good at speaking, so in that sense the fact that he's here really saves me. Inoue is young but he's a solid athlete. I think he's going to be one of the leaders of the next generation of Japanese marathoning and I hope that he makes good use of what he learns from this experience.

Comparing my training this time to before Moscow I've held back on speedwork a bit, but I haven't had any injuries for over a year and have been doing solid training without any interruption, so I can take confidence from that and stand on the starting line knowing that I'm in perfect condition.

Source articles:
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170730-00000545-sanspo-spo
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170730-00000033-dal-spo
http://www.jaaf.or.jp/news/article/10663/
translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo © 2017 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Chebii Returns - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Elite Field

Defending champ Ezekiel Chebii (Kenya) returns to lead the field for the Mar. 4 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. Chebii is one of three men in the field with recent 2:06 times, his 2:06:07 in Amsterdam two years ago leading Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) and Abera Kuma (Ethiopia) to form a clear trio of favorites.

Making up the second pack are four current sub-2:10 Japanese men, 2017 Gold Coast winner Takuya Noguchi (Konica Minolta), Rio Olympian Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei), and Sasaki's teammates Takuya Fukatsu and Fumihiro Maruyama. The addition of sub-61 half marathoner Kenta Murayama in his second shot at the marathon after a failed debut in Tokyo two years ago makes for a formidable quartet of men from 2017 and 2018 New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei all aligned in training and talent.

With Japan's depth it's never surprising to see a relatively anonymous runner make a breakthrough and factor into the action. Yoshiki Takenouchi (NTT Nishi Nihon) was one of the …

Yamazaki, Ndirangu, Kamulu and Shitara Top Weekend Road Racing Action

Snow and cold impacted road races across Japan over the weekend, but at the top level almost every event went off as planned. In his marathon debut, Shota Yamazaki (Yakult) downed two-time defending champ Ryoichi Matsuo and debuting training partner Takumi Honda of the locally-based New Year Ekiden national champion Asahi Kasei corporate team to take the top spot at the Nobeoka Nishi Nippon Marathon in a three-way sprint finish.

Shaking off first-timer Keisuke Tanaka (Fujitsu) late in the race, Yamazaki did all the work in the lead trio with the Asahi Kasei duo hanging off both of his shoulders. Hitting a bridge with 750 m to go Honda surged into the lead with Matsuo following. Yamazaki fell back, looking behind him with 500 m to go and seeming to have settled for 3rd. At 400 m to go Matsuo went to the front and looked to be on track to become only the second man to win Nobeoka three times, but as the pair rounded the final corner Yamazaki came back with a kick that left both his riv…

In Memory of Ken Young

I'm very saddened to hear of the passing of Ken Young, founder of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians. If you're not familiar with Ken or the ARRS, Amby Burfoot's 2016 piece on him in Runners World, The Endless Toil of the Big Data Guy, says everything you need to know. Back in the early days of JRN, Ken was one of several industry people to contact me after I published JRN's first hit article, 397 Under 70 Minutes: The 20th Ageo City Half Marathon. He wanted verification of the results and, seemingly having missed Ageo before, asked me to research its history and past results.

That soon led to me transliterating results from Japanese road, track and cross-country races for him on a weekly basis, results otherwise unavailable to the outside world except for some already covered by Japanese contributors Ken Nakamura and Shigenobu Ota. For the last 10 years I've spent about 10 hours on average every Sunday night and Monday morning, sometimes Tuesday, someti…