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23-Year-Old Amateur Runner Kaito Iwasa Hoping for Breakthrough at Fukuoka International Marathon


A Chuo University team video from Iwasa's senior season last year. He turns up in the Ageo City Half Marathon clip starting at 1:42.

Local Hiratsuka resident Kaito Iwasa, 23, will run the 74th Fukuoka International Marathon on Dec 6. With the number of entrants limited to a select few due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Iwasa earned the right to stand on the starting line by meeting the strict qualifying standards. "Fast times will come later," he said. "Before anything else I just want to enjoy this one."

Iwasa graduated from Kasugano J.H.S. and Oiso H.S. He attended Chuo University. where he was part of the ekiden team. After graduating from Chuo this year he started working at a local company in April, training all the while for next spring's Tokyo Marathon. When Tokyo was postponed until next October due to the coronavirus crisis, he started looking for another race he could run and heard that Fukuoka would be happening. 

In March this year Iwasa ran the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon as the final race of his college career, recording a respectable 2:19:51. "Fukuoka is an elite race," he said. "To be honest I didn't think I had a chance." But in a field of 94 his Lake Biwa time earned him bib # 83. He hopes to break 2:15.

Still in his first year of full-time work, it's a challenge for him to balance his job and training. "My life can't be completely focused on running like it was in university," Iwasa says. "but I've been able to work it so far so that I can still train six days a week." He gets up at 5:00 a.m. to run, generally following Route 1 along the coast or in the Hiratsuka municipal park, before heading to work. 

At Chuo Iwasa was selected as one of the entry members for the Hakone Ekiden but never made it to the starting lineup. That disappointment is what drives him now. "I want to stay involved with athletics and someday coach an athlete who will run the Hakone Ekiden's Fourth Stage through Hiratsuka," he says. "I want to show younger athletes that you can still have a career in athletics even if you're in the workplace."
 
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translated by Brett Larner

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