Commenting on Shitara's statement, his coach Satoshi Ogawa said, "I think he has complete confidence about winter races, but when it comes to summer races he's not as sure he can perform as expected. He probably thinks that there are other people who can do better in summer races."
Shitara also said, "Tokyo will be the last marathon I run in Japan," indicating that he plans to shift his focus to competing in high-level races abroad. The Tokyo Marathon is more than sufficiently high-level, regularly featuring athletes who have run in the 2:02 to 2:03 range, but, said Ogawa, "He wants to take on the challenge of competing internationally. He doesn't want conservative races, he wants to go fast and hard. For him it's all or nothing."
At the 2018 Tokyo Marathon Shitara ran a then-national record 2:06:11. After a planned confrontation with the man who broke his record failed to materialize at last year's Tokyo, the anticipation for his showdown with Osako this year is already building.
translated by Brett Larner
photo © 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved