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31-Year-Old Watanabe Aiming for "Top 3 on Stage" at Hakone Ekiden

In preparation for its second-straight appearance at the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, Tokyo Kokusai University held an open practice session for the media at its campus in Sakado, Saitama. Among its members is 2011 World Championships 5000 m team member Kazuya Watanabe, 31. "I want to do my part to pass on the tasuki and help us make the podium," said Watanabe of his hopes for the team to improve on its 17th-place finish last time.

That time Watanabe finished 7th on Hakone's Seventh Stage. "I want to help generate momentum," he said. "If I can I want to run the Fourth Stage on Day One. I want to finish higher up in the field that I did last time, top 3 if I can." Watanabe is studying to earn a degree in physical education. During the summer he had a heavy class load. Asked about his summer training he answered tersely, "I couldn't concentrate on running." He skipped month-long team training camps in Hokkaido and Gifu in late July to attend classes. Even during his commute he devoted his time to studying, memorizing keywords related to moral education.

Because his area of study also has a physical component his class time included mat gymnastics, always a weak point of his. "I'm really stiff, so I'm not good at tumbling exercises," he said. "It took me a week to be able to do a handspring." Even so, his running mileage increased. "Last year I was doing about 200 km a week, but this year there were lots of times I got up to 220 or 230 km a week," he said. Looking toward his second Hakone he said, "I have a big test I have to take tomorrow, but after that I'll be in full-on Hakone mode."

Kazuya Watanabe - born July 7, 1987 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo. After graduating from Hotoku Gakuen H.S. he ran for the Sanyo Tokushu Seiko, Shikoku Denryoku and Nissin Shokuhin corporate teams. Winner of the 2011 National Championships 5000 m, he finished 4th at the Asian Championships and represented Japan at the World Championships the same year. In April, 2017 he entered Tokyo Kokusai University's department of physical education. Watanabe holds PBs of 3:38.11 for 1500 m, 13:23.15 for 5000 m and 27:47.79 for 10000 m. His hobby is playing video games. His family includes his parents and a brother.

source article:
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20181213-00418222-nksports-spo
translated by Brett Larner

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