Why Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi is the hero we need

Why Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi is the hero we need

Most of the 30,000 taking part in the Boston Marathon hated the conditions.

But not men's winner Yuki Kawauchi who simply loves running.

Elite marathon athletes usually compete in no more than three races a year.

Kawauchi has now run, and won, four marathons in the first four months of 2018.

He also takes in numerous races over shorter distances.

This is him last month running a half marathon in his hometown Kuki. In a panda suit.

He was only second, possibly due to the costume.

Here is Kawauchi a week later, after his final prep race for Boston.

'The Citizen Runner'

What makes Kawauchi's achievements all the more remarkable is that he is not even a full-time athlete.

The 31-year-old, aka 'The Citizen Runner', has a day job as a high school administrator in Japan's Saitama Prefecture, running marathons in his spare time.

He braved temperatures of -20c to win the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon.

In doing so, he set a new world record of 76 marathons in under two hours and 20 minutes.

His win in Boston took that tally to 79.

And Kawauchi's goal is to reach 100 before Tokyo 2020.

Brett Larner of Japan Running News has created The Kawauchi Counter, tracking his competitive runs.

According to this, Kawauchi will be back in action in Sunday's Gifu Half Marathon.

He might not necessarily wear a vest and shorts.

But first, he is due back in the office on Wednesday.

Doing it his way

Despite the outfits and his unorthodox routine - using races as training runs - Kawauchi is a serious competitor.

He announced himself to the world by finishing third at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon.

Kawauchi was then 18th at the Daegu World Championships, helping Japan to silver in the team competition.

Despite that success, he has chosen to stay away from the national team training set-up.

Self-coached and refusing sponsorship, Kawauchi is determined to do things his way.

"This environment works for me. If I had more free time, it might not work."

Now he wants to qualify for Tokyo 2020 which would be his first Olympics.

Kawauchi shaved his head in shame after missing out on London 2012.

And he said he would not go to Rio 2016 unless he won the Fukuoka Marathon at the end of 2015.

He finished eighth behind Kenya's Patrick Makau, and kept his word.

Perhaps he can make it third time lucky in Tokyo.

Kirui collapse

Kawauchi's victory came partly thanks to a collapse from Geoffrey Kirui.

The Kenyan looked set to retain his title with just over 2km to go, but slowed dramatically.

And the Japanese surged home for his first major success.

Home joy for Linden

Desiree Linden became the first home winner of the women's event since 1985.

Amazingly, she considered stopping early on and helped fellow American Shalane Flanagan rejoin the lead group after a toilet stop.

Flanagan ended a 40-year American drought in last November's New York City Marathon.

And she helped inspire Linden to her triumph in Boston.

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