One of the central support pillars for Gunma's top women's long distance team Yamada Denki, Kasumi Nishihara has begun her tenth year with the team. With two 10000 m national titles and representation of Japan at the World Championships to her name, Nishihara has led the team on the road in the ekiden as well. A veteran at age 31, Nishihara is still full of motivation, saying, "People talk about age, but I can still progress. More than anything else, I still think running is fun." She is excited to try to make the Tokyo Olympic team on the track, and to finally make a long-awaited marathon debut.
Nishihara joined Yamada Denki in 2011 after graduating from Bukkyo University. She won the 10000 m national title twice, in 2014 and 2015. In 2014 she was 8th in the 10000 m at the Incheon Asian Games, and a year later ran at the Beijing World Championships. From 2014 through 2016 she also won the National Sports Festival 5000 m three years in a row. She also had her share of injuries. "Good times and bad times, I've been through it all," she says.
Through that experience Nishihara has changed. When she first came to Yamada Denki she was focused on herself, not the sort of person who would lead those around her through her words. At last year's National Corporate Women's Ekiden Championships Yamada Denki had missed out on a seventh-straight podium finish, underlining the need for them to get more serious about their training. With her teammates' morale was at its lowest, she stepped up to turn them back around. At this year's end of season team meeting she had changed visibly, taking the initiative in encouraging the younger runners on the team and telling them, "If you've truly got the motivation, then let's do it for real."
Kasumi Nishihara - born Mar. 1, 1989 in Kyoto. 5000 m PB of 15:20.20, 10000 m PB of 31:53.69. Winner of the final running of the Kyoto Half Marathon.
translated by Brett Larner