Japanese 'Civil Servant' Wins Boston Marathon
Backstories

Japanese 'Civil Servant' Wins Boston Marathon

    A Japanese athlete has won the men's race in the Boston Marathon. Yuki Kawauchi, known as the civil servant runner, is the first Japanese man to take the title in more than 3 decades.

    On April 16th, Kawauchi was able to overcome brutal winds, rain and cold to complete the marathon with a winning time of 2:15:58, claiming his first Boston title.

    The Boston Marathon has been held 122 times. It has the longest history among modern sports events besides the Olympic Games, and it is recognized as one of the 6 major world marathons.

    Kawauchi's win makes him the first Japanese runner to win the Boston title since Toshihiko Seko in 1987.

    Kawauchi's victory garnered extensive coverage in local media outlets. He was able to come from behind to overtake defending champion Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya. Media outlets called Kawauchi's victory the greatest upset in the 122-year history of the Boston Marathon.

    Kawauchi, the "amateur running star"

    Kawauchi sets his own training schedule and trains alone without belonging to any corporate team or brand. He has become one of Japan's leading marathon runners.

    The 31-year-old athlete is known for his perseverance. In the 2011 Tokyo Marathon, he found himself in the limelight after posting a time of just over 2 hours and 8 minutes. He finished 3rd overall and 1st among Japanese runners.

    Kawauchi has never been selected for the Japanese Olympic team. But he has taken part in the World Championships 3 times. In last year's World Championships in August in London, he finished 9th, which was his highest position at the time. His personal best is 2:08:14, which he achieved in 2013 during a race in Seoul.

    Kawauchi works at a high school as an administrator in Saitama Prefecture. The school's principal says Kawauchi called the school to inform them of his victory. The principal said Kawauchi sounded excited, and told them he would arrive back in Japan a day later than expected to attend ceremonies in the US.

    Kawauchi's supervisor at work called the win a great achievement, and said he wants to congratulate Kawauchi. He says he is considering buying Kawauchi a cake to celebrate the occasion.

    Kawauchi jogs with a Saitama Prefectural Government running club. In August of last year, he proposed that the club do a summer training camp at a mountain resort in Nagano Prefecture.

    One of the Kawauchi's teammates says they run in a wide variety of conditions, and that these training programs may have helped him in Boston. He says he is very happy for Kawauchi.

    Motivation for Japanese marathon runners

    Japanese male runners have performed poorly in large races in recent years. But at the Tokyo Marathon in February, Yuta Shitara set a new national record for the first time in 16 years, and others are now following suit.

    Toshihiko Seko, who leads Japan's marathon team, hopes Kawauchi's victory will help raise the level of Japanese athletes ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    Seko says the win motivates other runners, who are now trying to follow Kawauchi's lead. He says the Olympic Games are where the world's top runners gather, so Japanese athletes need to get used to international races. Seko hopes Japanese runners will aim to compete against the world's best.