Yuki Kawauchi the Citizen Runner Invades The 2013 New York City Marathon: Five Takeways

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by: LetsRun.com
November 1, 2013

Yuki Kawauchi has become a cult hero throughout the world as the “Citizen Runner”. Not only is he a 2:08:14 marathoner, but he’s done it his own way, while having a regular job, and running a ton of races a year.

For example, in February he ran a personal best of 2:08:15 in Japan and then six weeks later he ran another personal best of 2:08:14 in South Korea. Last month, Kawauchi ran the Melbourne Marathon in 2:11:40 and then a 20k the next week in 59:17. Super crazy and impressive.

Five takeaways from talking to Kawauchi.

1) Marathon #9 For Kawauchi This Year

This is Kawauchi’s 9th marathon of the year (he’s also done one ultra) and he’ll do 2 more this year for a total of 11 marathons.

As you see below, he’s won all but three of them. Kawauchi indicated some of the marathons are just preparation runs for other marathons down the road. Some guys do 40k in training. Kawauchi does a marathon. New York is a race he’s trying to peak for, whereas some of the other marathons are not race he is peaking for.

Marathon results for Kawauchi from All-Athletics.com

DateCompetitionCnt.Cat.TypeNr.Pl.ResultDropScore
20.01.2013Luxor Egyiptan MarathonEGYFF1.2:12:241119
03.02.2013Beppu-Oita MarathonJPNCF1.2:08:151193
17.03.2013Seoul Dong-A International MarathonKORBF4.2:08:141193
21.04.2013Nagano Commemorative MarathonJPNEF1.2:14:271083
02.06.2013Chitose MarathonJPNFF1.2:18:291015
07.07.2013Brisbane Gold Coast MarathonAUSEF1.2:10:011161
17.08.2013Moskva IAAF World ChampionshipsRUSOWF18.2:15:351064
13.10.2013Melbourne MarathonAUSEF2.2:11:401132
Yuku Kawauchi on Friday in New York

Yuku Kawauchi on Friday in New York

2) Kawauchi’s Frequent Racing Doesn’t Seem Quite as Crazy After Talking to Him
Sure we don’t recommend doing what he’s doing, but look at how many races he’s won. If he’s winning the marathon, it likely is not an all out effort.

3) Kawauchi Only Trains Once a Day
Kawauchi pointed out while he may race a ton, unlike most professional runners, he only trains once a day so that helps his body stand up with all the racing he does. Because of his job, which is from mid afternoon to the evening, Kawauchi gets all his running done in the AM.

4) Kawauchi and the “First Japanese” Syndrome
In America, there is often talk of whether guys are too content to be the First American. Kawauchi is clearly motivated by the other Japanese runners. He noted the first Japanese finisher was 7th in Chicago so “I want to be higher than them, possibly sixth or higher.” He also talked about wanting to beat everyone in New York (Kiprotich and Kebede) who beat Kentaro Nakamoto, the first Japanese finisher at Worlds, who was fifth. “I kind of want revenge for him,” he said.

5) Kawauchi is Popular in Marathon Mad Japan 
The marathon is very popular in Japan. When asked why, Kawauchi said some of it had to do with Japanese culture of putting a value on patience saying, “Also as Japanese society, we do like patience or putting up with things, like a bear. So Japanese like to watch that kind of  (patient) race like the marathon”.

Just as Kawauchi has picked up a world-wide following (the journalists surrounded Kawauchi Friday while largely ignoring most of the other Japanese runners), he also is popular in Japan. As Kawauchi pointed out, nearly all runners in the world have jobs so people can relate to him.

It will be interesting to see what Kawauchi can do in marathon #9 for 2010. A sub 2:10 in New York would make us think his crazy schedule is not as mad as we thought.


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