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Japanese Men Stuck Behind the 2:09 Wall Seven Minutes Behind the Rest of the World

translated by Brett Larner

It's turned into an era when it's hard to break even 2:09.

On Feb. 12, Yuki Kawauchi (29), the top Japanese finisher in December's Fukuoka International Marathon at 3rd overall, set a new course record of 2:09:54 to win the Ehime Marathon for the first time.  Speaking of 2:09, in Fukuoka as well Kawauchi ran 2:09:11.  On the 5th this month Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon winner Kentaro Nakamoto (34) ran 2:09:32 too.  And the three members of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics team did it in the selection races.  Satoru Sasaki barely broke 2:09 at 2:08:56 for 3rd in Fukuoka, and Hisanori Kitajima and Suehiro Ishikawa ran 2:09:16 and 2:09:25 for 2nd and 4th at Lake Biwa.  Even in the Olympic season when marathoners' gaze is supposed to be loftier, that was all they could do.

Even though the world standard in the men's marathon is now at the 2:02 level, Japanese haven't run 2:07 in a domestic race since Masato Imai's 2:07:39 for 7th in Tokyo back in 2015.  Maybe that's why the Tokyo Marathon, scheduled for the 26th this month, has changed its course to try to put out high-speed times.  Gone is the heartbreaking uphill, Tsukada Bridge, just after 35 km.  With the organizers having made the course easier it'll be fun to watch how much faster times might get.

Also on the 12th, Ai Utsunomiya, 21, ran a PB of 1:10:47 to win the National Corporate Women's Half Marathon, more than three minutes slower than Kayoko Fukushi's 1:07:26 Japanese national record.  But on the 10th at a half marathon in the U.A.E., Peres Jepchirchir (23, Kenya) set a new world record of 1:05:06.

Translator's note: One of JRN's purposes is to show the extent to which long distance features in the Japanese media and the ways in which they cover it. This article was translated to show that there is crap tabloid journalism and trolling in Japan too. 


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translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo © 2012 Dr. Helmut Winter, all rights reserved