Skip to main content

Getting a Late Start at Age 25 - Minami Yamanouchi

Back in 2010 JRN spotted 17-year-old high school student Minami Yamanouchi at a local 14 km road race in northern Ibaraki, where she beat the high school boys' course record by more than four minutes. At the time we wrote, "If Yamanouchi keeps running post-high school and lands at the right team, university or pro, we may have been lucky to see the first appearance of a future great." Now 25 and coached by former half marathon national record holder Atsushi Sato at the Kyocera corporate team, in the last few weeks Yamanouchi has really come into her own.

Minami Yamanouchi (Kyocera) took the top Japanese spot at 4th overall in the 5000 m at the April 28 Oda Memorial Meet in Hiroshima, one of the top-level track meets in Japan. A former amateur runner, she only joined the corporate leagues last August. Seeing her progress in less than a year of serious training, her coach Atsushi Sato, the 6th placer in the 2009 World Championships marathon, called her "exceptional." Getting a late start in her development at age 25, Yamanouchi says, "My ultimate goal is to go back to the marathon."

At the Oda Memorial Meet the field in her race included tough competition like London World Championships marathoner Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu) and Valencia World Half Marathon Championships team member Yuka Hori (Panasonic). Her better-known competitors dropped out of the lead group one by one, but the unknown Yamanouchi was there til the end. Her finishing time was 15:21.31, a quality mark that would have landed her 3rd at last year's National Championships and qualified her for London.

Born in Fukushima, in junior high school she took part in the National Junior High School Championships. She initially enrolled in a high school but quit without ever going, instead earning her high school diploma by correspondence from Koriyama Hosei H.S. Without access to a track team she trained on her own. running a 2:47:41 marathon at age 18. After graduating she received offers from corporate teams, but, she said, "I hate strictness so I turned them all down." Getting a job with a paid membership amateur running club she chose the route of an amateur so that she could enjoy her running. But, suffering from repeated injuries during that time, she says, "It ended up not being much fun."

After quitting the club and recovering from her injuries Yamanouchi thought to herself, "Let's try running in the corporate leagues." After rejection after rejection, she finally sent a letter of appeal to Sato, a fellow native of Fukushima. Sato initially turned her down as well, but when she ran a strong PB in a track time trial off almost no training he saw her potential and admitted her to the Kyocera team.

Despite the enthusiasm she had expressed in her letter to him Yamanouchi initially struggled with her self-control, arriving at Kyocera 7-8 kg overweight and suffering a stress fracture in her left foot right away in the autumn. As a result she couldn't run for five months, and her actual training as a corporate leaguer began only three months ago. With that kind of short lead-up behind her she more than delivered at the Oda Memorial Meet.

In the May 5 Golden Games in Nobeoka women's 5000 m she was again the top Japanese placer, finishing 3rd overall. Despite her sudden leap to the top level of Japanese women's track Yamanouchi doesn't intend to run in this summer's Jakarta Asian Games, saying, "It's all happened so fast that I haven't had time to think. At any rate there's the National Championships and ekiden season." Yamanouchi may talk small, but her potential looks to be anything but.

source article:
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20180509-00000046-mai-spo
translated by Brett Larner

Comments

Metts said…
A 2:47 at age 18, another Japanese exceptional semi-amateur athlete like the others mentioned here before.
Chris said…
With that kind of talent and injury record, she sounds like a female Kenenisa Bekele.

Most-Read This Week

Kisaisa Wins Second-Straight Yosenkai Half Marathon in 1:00:44, Komazawa University Averages Ten Men Under 1:03

The Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai is the qualifying race for Japan's most prestigious road race, the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden. University men's teams in the Tokyo area that didn't make the top ten at Hakone the year before square off in Tokyo's Showa Kinen Park with teams of up to twelve. The top ten score, their cumulative times determining the team's placing with the top eleven teams advancing and high-placing individuals from schools that don't make the cut rounded up to form a select team.

The Yosenkai has long been the world's #1 20 km road race by a wide margin, with winning times among the fastest in the world for the distance and the same kind of incredible depth seen at November's Ageo City Half Marathon and March's National University Men's Half Marathon. In light of changes in the IAAF's ranking system and the level of performance at the Yosenkai, this year organizers took the historic step of changing it from its traditional distance to …

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
           …

Osako Brings Japanese National Record Back to Chicago

Just over seven months since Yuta Shitara broke Toshinari Takaoka's longstanding 2:06:16 national record from the 2002 Chicago Marathon with a 2:06:11 in Tokyo in February, U.S.-based Suguru Osako brought the record back home to Chicago with a 3rd-place finish in 2:05:50.

Running the same pattern as in his first two marathons, Osako sat back in the lead men's pack, never exerting himself as it whittled down to the core members. Just past the turn into Chinatown near 35 km his Nike Oregon Project teammate and 2017 Chicago winner Galen Rupp fell off the front group to leave Osako in contention with former NOP member Mo Farah, 2:04 Ethiopian Mosinet Gemerew, former Asahi Kasei runner Kenneth Kipkemoi and 2017 world champion Geoffrey Kirui.

As in Boston and Fukuoka last year, when the real move came, this time in the form of a surge by Farah and Gemerew, Osako was left behind to battle it out for 3rd. While Farah kicked away for the win by 13 seconds in a European record 2:05:11,…