Kawauchi becomes first Japanese runner to win Boston Marathon since 1987

RUNNING INTO HISTORY — The 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi speaks to reporters upon arrival at Narita airport near Tokyo on April 19. The Japanese amateur runner said he plans to quit his full-time job and go pro. Kyodo News photo

BOSTON — Yuki Kawauchi became the first Japanese runner in 31 years to win the Boston Marathon after besting the men on April 16 with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes, 58 seconds to earn his first World Marathon major title.

Kawauchi endured the coldest start in 30 years, strong winds and heavy rain to overtake defending champion Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya in the last mile and cross the tape over two minutes in front at the 122nd running of the road race ending at Boston’s Copley Square.
Kirui finished second in 2:18:23, and American Shadrack Biwott was third in 2:18:35.

“I just looked ahead. I just kept looking ahead and ran my best and that’s how I won,” Kawauchi said. “These were winning conditions for me. This is the happiest day since I started running 26 years ago.”

He became the first Japanese man to win since Toshihiko Seko in 1987, the year Kawauchi was born, and the ninth Japanese champion overall, with past winners including Morio Shigematsu in 1965 and Kenji Kimihara in 1966.

“I don’t think anyone here thought I would win. This race proves that we never know what can happen in marathon,” Kawauchi said.

The Saitama native, who has won over 30 marathons and is known as the “citizen runner” for his work in the prefectural government, was recognized by Guinness World Records last month for completing the highest number of marathons in under 2 hours and 20 minutes.

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