Skip to main content

Nao Kazami A Month On From the World Record



It's Sunday, June 24. At the western end of Japan's main island of Honshu the competition at the Yamaguchi National Track and Field Championships has been heating up. On this day alone, the final day of the Championships, the national records have fallen in both the men's 110 m hurdles and men's discus throw. On the very same day, far to the northeast of Yamaguchi at Lake Saroma, Hokkaido, another new record was born. After standing for 20 years, the 100 km ultramarathon world record has finally fallen. The man who accomplished this deed is Nao Kazami (Aisan Kogyo).

The previous world record of 6:13:33 was set at Lake Saroma by Takahiro Sunada (Sekisui Kagaku) in 1998. Kazami improved that mark by more than four minutes with a new record of 6:09:14.  "I was targeting place more than time," said Kazami of the race where he needed to finish in the top four to have a chance of being selected for the Japanese national team for this year's Croatia World Championships. After a high-paced first half Kazami lost touch with the leaders near 50 km and dropped back to 4th, but maintaining his own pace he managed to keep the lead trio in sight. At 70 km he returned to the front, then abruptly broke free to run away for the win and the superb new record.

Kazami runs while working a full-time job. He regularly trains in Aichi Kenkonomori Park in Obu, Aichi, a popular spot for local runners thanks to its multitude of running trails. It might be too much to call him Mr. Misfortune, but looking back on his career as an athlete it's safe to say Kazami has had his share of setbacks.

A member of Komazawa University's ekiden team during its strongest era as a repeat winner at the Hakone Ekiden, Kazami made Komazawa's Hakone entry roster four years in a row but never got to realize his dream of actually running in it. Even though he was only an alternate, as a fourth-year he had the extra disappointment of seeing Komazawa's Hakone Ekiden winning streak come to an end at four years. After joining the Aisan Kogyo corporate team following his graduation he got to run in the Chubu Region Corporate Ekiden and New Year Ekiden national championships, but he retired from the team after just four years without accomplishing any major achievements.

But where most other athletes would have given up at that point Kazami persevered. After retiring from the Aisan Kogyo team Kazami built a daily schedule around his full-time job with the company, running every morning at 5:00 a.m. and after he finished work for the day. He has run as much as 50 km on a regular weekday workday. This accumulation of value was what led him to the 100 km world record.

The September issue of Running Magazine Courir that went on sale July 21 features a long-form interview with Kazami. It also features talks with his coach at Komazawa, Hiroaki Oyagi, as well as with former world record holder Sunada. Amateur runners everywhere can find tips and inspiration in Kazami's approach to training and racing while holding down an ordinary full-time job.

Translator's note: As today is 100 days since the Boston Marathon, a little-known fact: Kazami ran Boston this year prior to setting the 100 km WR at Lake Saroma. After starting off well he began to have problems with cold after 10 km, then went into a medical area between 15 and 20 km to warm up for nearly an hour and a half. Eventually he started running again, plugging along to finish in 3:47:02 for 12,618th overall.

source article:
https://www.bbm-japan.com/_ct/17190812
translated by Brett Larner

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

Bradley said…
Are there other English sources of information (biographical or otherwise) about Kazami? Thank you.
Brett Larner said…
Not that I know of, sorry.

Most-Read This Week

Kusu Runs Steeplechase World-Leading Time, Yabuta and Yoshimura Break National Records, Tanaka Just Misses Fukushi's NR - Kitami and Liege Highlights

Wednesday afternoon and evening saw the fourth meet in this year's five-part Hokuren Distance Challenge series, this time in the town of Kitami. The program included the little-raced 2000 m steeplechase as a tuneup for Monday's series-closing Abashiri meet, and in both the women's and men's races the national records went down. A top collegiate steepler while at Kyoto Sangyo University, Yui Yabuta (Otsuka Seiyaku) ran 6:27.74 to break the women's record. In the men's race 1500 m specialist Yasunari Kusu (Ami AC) surprised many by breaking the Japanese national record with a world-leading 5:31.82 despite little experience in the steeple.

The women's 3000 m in Kitami was more explicitly set up as a national record attempt, with four of the ten fastest Japanese women ever over the distance lined up to gun for the great Kayoko Fukushi's 8:44.40 record dating back to 2002. From the gun it was out at NR pace, with pacers Hellen Ekalale (Toyota Jidoshokki) an…

Lemeteki and Aoki Win Shibestu Half

Kenyan Razini Lemeteki (Takushoku Univ.) and relative unknown Nanami Aoki (Iwatani Sangyo) took the top spots in hot and sunny conditions at the Shibetsu Half Marathon in Hokkaido. With Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) doing early frontrunning in the men's race only to fade to a 20th-place finish in 1:06:40 Lemeteki had little competition for the win in 1:03:25. 2017 Shibetsu winner Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) was the top Japanese man at 2nd in 1:03:42, beating MGC Race Olympic marathon trials qualifiers Daichi Kamino (New Balance) and Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) - by 4 seconds and 11 seconds. Other MGC Race qualifiers Masato Imai (Toyota Jidoshokki), Yuji Iwata (MHPS) and Ryo Kiname (MHPS) all struggled, none of them breaking 66 minutes.

Aoki won the women's race easily in 1:15:12 by almost a minute over Mai Nagaoka (Sysmex). MGC Race qualifiers Reia Iwade (Under Armour) and Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) were listed to start but apparently did not run.
33rd Suffolkland Shibets…

Koike Runs Japan's Third Sub-10, Niiya Clears Doha 5000 m Standard - Weekend Track Highlights

Japanese athletes were busy on the track overseas this weekend. At Friday's Stumptown Twilight meet in Portland, indoor mile Asian record holder Nanami Arai (Honda) took 2nd in the men's 1500 m in 3:39.58, his second time this season breaking 3:40. It used to be a rarity to see a Japanese man clear 3:40, something that happened once every couple of years, but so far this season four Japanese men have done it a total of six times. If the distance had even a fraction of the prestige of the Hakone Ekiden, or of that it has in the U.S., there's no doubt there'd be more.

Speaking of distances with prestige, on the first day of London's Muller Anniversary Games Diamond League spectacular Yuki Koike (Sumitomo Denko) became the third Japanese man to join the sub-10 club, running 9.98 (+0.5 m/s) for 4th in the men's 100 m final. Koike also ran 2nd on the Japanese men's 4x100 m relay team, which clocked a season best 37.78 for 2nd despite featuring only two regulars…