Skip to main content

Shitara to Go For National Record in Tokyo: "I Care About the 100 Million Yen Bonus More Than the Olympics"

In his first race since finishing 14th at the Sept. 15 MGC Race Olympic marathon trials, former marathon national record holder Yuta Shitara (Honda) ran the Nov. 3 East Japan Corporate Men's Ekiden, finishing 2nd on its Third Stage. "Even if you're tired, that's no excuse," he said. "I went to the starting line with confidence and ran the best I could according to how I'm feeling right now."

There's a lot of attention right now on the last remaining spot on the 2020 Olympic marathon team. The first two spots were secured by the 1st and 2nd-placers at the MGC Race, Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) and Yuma Hattori (Toyota). To claim the last remaining spot, someone has to break the Japanese national record and run at least 2:05:49 at this winter's Fukuoka International Marathon, Tokyo Marathon or Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon. If nobody succeeds, the spot will go to MGC 3rd-placer and current national record holder Suguru Osako (ex-Nike Oregon Project).

The favorite to pull it off, after his run at East Japan Shitara talked about his plans for next year's Tokyo Marathon. But he did so in a characteristically Shitaresque way. "As long as you're competing in sports, [the Olympics] are something you aim for," he said. "I'm running the Tokyo Marathon next year, but I don't really care that much about the Olympics. I care more about getting the 100 million yen bonus [~$920,000 USD]. That's my priority. I'm running it for the money. The MGC Race didn't have any prize money, and I'm living right now because I can run. It takes money to run."

Making clear his focus on scoring the Project Exceed bonus for breaking the marathon national record again, Shitara seemed to suggest that if he succeeds in winning a place on the 2020 Olympic team he might turn it down. ""I'm not going to say myself that I'll run [the Olympics]," he said. "The public would probably rather see Osako run there. He's got better achievements in international competitions. He'd definitely get the job done, and if you leave it to him there won't be any doubt. I'll leave it to the public to decide." Of the Olympic marathon's move to Sapporo he said, "If that's what has been decided then there's no choice but to obey."

Now 27 years old with his own unique way of looking at the world, Shitara expressed a sense of frustration with the current state of the marathon as an event. "It's really boring to run all these races set up by old people these days," he said. "I think we're going into an era when change is going to come from the athletes. I want to change, and I can't wait for that day to come." The first step is to try to score his second 100 million yen bonus in Tokyo. "It's a race against Osako's record," he said. "I'll be going for it as long as I can run."

source articles:
https://www.daily.co.jp/general/2019/11/03/0012845356.shtml
https://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/201911040000145.html
https://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/20191104/ath19110405020003-n1.html
translated by Brett Larner

photo © 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
We need more Yuta Shitaras!

Most-Read This Week

Takushoku Teammates Lemeteki and Akasaki Sub-62 For 1-2 at Ageo City Half Marathon

Takushoku University teammates Joseph Razini Lemeteki and Akira Akasaki dominated the 2019 Ageo City Half Marathon, alternating the lead throughout almost the entire race to go 1-2 in school record times.

With invitations to the 2019 United Airlines NYC Half up for grabs to the top two Japanese collegiate finishers in the unofficial intramural tryout for Japan's most prestigious race, the 2020 Hakone Ekiden, things went out very conservatively by Ageo standards at just 3:00/km for the first 2 km. Not content with that, Akasaki, 3rd on his stage at both the Izumo Ekiden in October and the National University Ekiden earlier this month, picked up the race and carried it until 15 km. From 3 km to 8 km Akasaki split 14:33, pace for 1:01:24, condensing the pack behind him down to eight.


After the 10 km turnaround Akasaki's teammate Lemeteki made a bold move to gain contact with the lead group, and when he did it shaved things down to seven serious contenders. The front group stayed …

Japanese Amateur Yamaguchi and Ugandan Kusuro Break Kobe Course Records

Amateur Japanese club runner Haruka Yamaguchi (AC Kita) and Ugandan Geoffrey Kusuro had dominant wins at the 9th running of the Kobe Marathon Sunday, both running PBs and winning by almost 4 minutes in course record time.

Yamaguchi, who ran a PB 2:33:06 in Sydney in September and dropped a surprise 31:58 at last weekend's East Japan Women's Ekiden, slipped away early, never challenged by the pack of invited African elites or by friend and rival club runner Shiho Kaneshige (GRlab Kanto). Going through halfway faster than her half marathon PB in 1:13:08. She slowed slightly in the second half, especially on the large bridge out to the island finish line, but her win was never in doubt as she broke the tape in 2:27:39. Previously, the fastest pure amateur Japanese women's marathon performance was Chihiro Tanaka's 2:29:30 in Nagoya in 2002. Breaking that by almost two minutes, Yamaguchi staked her claim as Japan's best-ever amateur.


2nd through 5th were close together…

Saitama International Marathon Elite Field

The first women's race in the 2020 Sapporo Olympic marathon team Final Challenge, the chance for a Japanese woman to pick up the third spot on the Olympic team by running 2:22:22 or better, in its 5th edition the Saitama International Marathon continues its slide toward oblivion as an elite race. The international field is good, and well-positioned to set it up for a Japanese woman to attack that kind of time with 2:21:53 Ethiopian Belaynesh Oljira and debuting 1:05:06 Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir in the foreground, but Japanese women have almost entirely given it a miss. Only one independent runner, Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) and one semi-corporate leaguer, Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) are on the  entry list, raising the obvious question of why bother?

Saitama is popular as a mass-participation race, and it is raised a little higher by the quality of internationals it attracts. But as a national team selection race, it seems like only a matter of time before it loses that status to the…