Japan hails marathon vic­tor

School clerk records shock win in Bos­ton race

Global Times US Edition - - SPORTS -

Japan on Tues­day hailed lo­cal school clerk Yuki Kawauchi, the sur­prise win­ner of the Bos­ton Marathon, who called work af­ter his vic­tory to ask for an ex­tra day off to cel­e­brate.

When Kawauchi plowed across the fin­ish line on Mon­day, de­spite the cold­est start in 30 years and steady rain, he be­came the first Ja­panese run­ner to win the race since 1987.

In a po­etic twist of fate, that was the year Kawauchi was born.

He fin­ished the pun­ish­ing 42.1-kilo­me­ter course with a time of 2 hours, 15 min­utes and 58 sec­onds.

The hum­ble bu­reau­crat, who has no coach and no spon­sor and trains in his free time, has been hailed across Japan for the shock tri­umph.

“It is a tremen­dous achieve­ment to win Bos­ton, which is one of the high­est qual­ity races in the world,” Toshi­hiko Seko, the Ja­panese run­ner who won the race in 1987 and 1981, told na­tional broad­caster NHK.

“In the hor­ri­ble con­di­tions that every­one hates, Kawauchi man­aged to main­tain the tough­est spirit, more than any­one else.”

Kawauchi’s quiet ded­i­ca­tion has gar­nered wide­spread ad­mi­ra­tion.

At the Kuki High School in Saitama re­gion, where Kawauchi works, of­fi­cials said he had been in touch – to ask about an ex­tra day off.

Ap­par­ently not ex­pect­ing his win, Kawauchi had planned to fly back to Japan the morn­ing af­ter the race and start work­ing from Wed­nes­day evening.

“He called to ask for an ex­tra day off be­cause he has to at­tend func­tions there,” school of­fi­cial Ya­suhiro Mit­sui told AFP.

“The prin­ci­pal told him, ‘Con­grat­u­la­tions, you have done very well,’” Mit­sui said, adding that the hol­i­day ex­ten­sion had been granted.

No cel­e­bra­tions were be­ing planned at the school, Mit­sui said, in keep­ing with Kawauchi’s low-key ap­proach to his run­ning.

His train­ing is done out­side work­ing hours, and he com­petes in races on week­ends or on hol­i­day.

“Gen­er­ally he has kept his work and marathon sep­a­rate. We sup­port him, like we sup­port oth­ers, by cov­er­ing his work while he is gone,” Mit­sui said.

Marathons are hugely pop­u­lar in Japan, and Kawauchi is well known for jug­gling his day job with his run­ning pas­sion.

“I want to show that you can com­pete at the world level even if you have a job like I do,” he has said of main­tain­ing the bal­ance.

Af­ter his win Mon­day, a tear­ful Kawauchi de­clared, “This is the great­est day of my life.

“There was no one who thought I would be the win­ner. I was able to prove that marathon is a sport in which you can­not tell what hap­pens un­til the fin­ish.”

But while the Bos­ton vic­tory might be the big­gest of his ca­reer, it is far from his only marathon win.

In fact, the 31-year-old has racked up five con­sec­u­tive marathon wins with his lat­est vic­tory, in­clud­ing races in Japan, the US and China.

Last month, he was rec­og­nized by the Guin­ness World Records for the high­est num­ber of marathons run in un­der 2 hours and 20 min­utes – 78 in all. And he won’t be rest­ing on his lau­rels long, with plans to run a half marathon this week­end in the Ja­panese city of Gifu, he told Ja­panese me­dia.

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