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MGC Race Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier - Yuki Sato

Yuki Sato

age: 32
sponsor: Nissin Shokuhin
graduated from: Saku Chosei H.S., Tokai University

best time inside MGC window:
2:08:58, 10th, 2018 Tokyo Marathon

PB: 2:08:58, 10th, 2018 Tokyo Marathon

other PBs:
5000 m: 13:13.60 (2013) 10000 m: 27:38.25 (2009) half marathon: 1:02:30 (2019)

marathons inside MGC window (Aug. 1 2017 – April 30 2019)
16th, 2019 Tokyo Marathon, 2:15:07
6th, 2018 Berlin Marathon, 2:09:18
10th, 2018 Tokyo Marathon, 2:08:58 – PB
DNF, 2017 Fukuoka International Marathon

other major results:
6th, 2019 HDC Abashiri Meet 10000 m, 28:08.34
2nd, 2019 Gold Coast Half Marathon, 1:02:36
2nd, 2019 Sendai International Half Marathon, 1:02:30 – PB
DNF, 2019 Marugame Half Marathon
13th, 2019 New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage (22.4 km), 1:06:03
2nd, 2018 East Japan Corporate Ekiden Fifth Stage (7.8 km), 23:00
DNF, 2018 National Championships 10000 m
16th, 2018 Marugame Half Marathon, 1:02:33
15th, 2017 Valencia Half Marathon, 1:02:53
4th, 2017 National Championships 10000 m, 28:09.01
DNF, 2017 Tokyo Marathon
11th, 2016 London Marathon, 2:12:14
14th, 2015 Berlin Marathon, 2:12:32
20th, 2015 Tokyo Marathon, 2:14:15
30th, 2013 Tokyo Marathon, 2:16:31
2nd, 2009 Hakone Ekiden Third Stage (21.5 km), 1:02:18
1st, 2008 Hakone Ekiden Seventh Stage (21.3 km), 1:02:35 – CR
1st, 2007 Hakone Ekiden First Stage (21.4 km), 1:01:06 – CR
1st, 2006 Hakone Ekiden Third Stage (21.5 km), 1:02:12 – CR

Sato has taken his time transitioning into the marathon, a superstar at the Hakone Ekiden and one of Japan’s all-time greats on the track but taking five years to progress from a 2:16:31 debut to the 2:08:58 that got him into the MGC Race. A graduate of Saku Chosei H.S., the only high school with three male graduates in the field, and of Tokai University, where he set new Hakone stage records three out of four years, fans had expected marathon success from Sato pretty much from day one. But as the years went by and a new generation started to take over Sato’s presence faded into the general background of the corporate scene. If he’d run 2:08 even a year or two earlier it would have been big news, but by the time he did get there he was a kilometer behind Yuta Shitara (Honda).

Sato followed that up with a solid 2:09:18 in Berlin, then went for it in Tokyo this year. Along with Berlin 4th-placer Shogo Nakamura (Fujitsu) and fellow Saku Chosei grad Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) Sato went through halfway in 1:02:04, well faster than his half marathon PB. All three ended up paying for it, but the belief and ambition were there. Since then Sato has run two good half marathons, including beating Fukuoka winner Yuma Hattori (Toyota) at July's Gold Coast Half Marathon, and finished high up in the field against a lot of other MGC qualifiers at the Hokuren Distance Challenge Abashiri 10000 m in late July before heading to St. Moritz for altitude training.

As a marathoner he’s still short on credentials, but there’s no question about his talent or fitness. And when Nissin Shokuhin disbanded its corporate team earlier this year he was one of the only runners they kept on board, specifically to get him to the Olympics, so you know his motivation is high. Like Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) in the women’s race, Sato isn’t one of the favorites, but it would be a mistake to count him out.

Next profile: Reia Iwade (Under Armour).

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

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