Chicago Shimpo
Suguru Osako Sets Japan Record in Chicago Marathon, Finishing 3rd in Rainy Race


• Suguru Osako from Japan set a Japanese record in the 2018 Chicago Marathon on October 7, finishing third at 2:05:50. Taku Fujimoto, also from Japan, came in the 9th at 2:07:57.

• More than 40,000 runners from 100 countries as well as the U.S. braved the unfriendly weather during the 41st Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Great Britain’s “Sir Mo” Farah won the race at 2:05:11, followed by Ethiopia’s Musinet Geremew Bayih at 2:05:24.

• The race began in the on-and-off rain, which kept the day’s temperature low.
• Despite the cold rain, the race moved fast. Farah crossed the finish line at a little past 9:30 am as the rain was falling harder. He beat last year’s winner’s time (2:09:20) by more than four minutes.
• Many of the runners crouched down as they finished the race, indicating the harshness of the race.

• Among other Japanese runners, Yohei Suzuki finished 12th at 2:12:18. Yuki Kawauchi, the winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon in April, was the 19th at 2:16:26, and Shunsuke Hisamoto, who won the Kyoto Marathon in February, finished 54th (2:26:16). Ryo Kiname dropped out in the second half of the race.
• In the men’s wheelchair race, Hiroki Nishida from Osaka secured the 4th place at 1:33:27 and Ryota Yoshida finished 9th at 1:36:09.

Interviews with the Runners

• Suguru Osako, 27, is training with the Nike Oregon Project in Oregon.
• He finished third in the 2017 Boston Marathon (his marathon debut) and again third in the 2017 Fukuoka Marathon in December. This qualified him to compete in the Marathon Grand Championship (“MGC”), the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifier.
• Osako was awarded 100 million yen (approximately $1 million) by the Japan Industrial Track & Field Association for setting a Japanese record under 2 hours and 6 minutes.
• When asked how he might spend the money during the post-race press conference, Osako said that he just made a decision on the spot to give $100,000 to his coach.
• “Unfortunately, my coach doesn’t get a million (dollars), so I’ll give 100,000 [dollars] to Ken, my coach. That’s what I just decided now,” he said.

Q: The pace [of the race] was pretty fast, wasn’t it?

Osako: It was slow going in the first half, but it picked up past the 30 kilometer point. During the last 2-3 kilometers, I started to feel it might be possible for me to break the [national] record.
In the last marathon I ran, I fell behind when the leading pack picked up the pace past the 30 kilometer point, and I had a hard time after that. So, today in Chicago, I kept up with the leading runners. During the last 7-8 miles, I kept telling myself only two miles left, until I made it to the finish line.

Q: Did the weather today make it difficult to run?

Osako: The wind was blowing hard, and the leading pack’s pace was fluctuating a lot throughout the race. Conditions like that tend to exhaust all your energy, making you fall behind. I tried to avoid it by running at a minimum level of energy possible. Keep up with the leading group all the way to the end – that was my goal.

Q: What do you think about the Nike Oregon Project?

Osako: Training with other runners motivates me. I can see how they train and keep track of how they change and grow, and that drives me to move forward. Thanks to the other runners, I believed I could condition myself to prepare for the Chicago Marathon.

Q: What’s your prospect of winning medals in the 2020 Olympics?

Osako: I don’t think about it at all. I just want to observe the other runners’ training as they are, and understand what they are doing, fact-based. Then I’ll do what I can do to train for the best condition possible.

Q: Does winning mean more to you than producing a good time?

Osako: Well, yes. If I could be competing in the Tokyo Marathon or the Olympics, time doesn’t mean anything – ranking is everything, no matter how fast or slow your time may be. The ability to win, which is also the ability to run fast, is what I want to strive for.

Q: Thank you very much.

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• Yuki Kawauchi, 31, is a Saitama prefectural employee and teaches at Kuki High School in that prefecture. He is the winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon at 2:15:58, the second Japanese winner of that prestigious marathon after Toshihiko Seko, who achieved the feat 31 years ago.
• Preceding the Boston Marathon, Kawauchi also won the Kita-Kyushu Marathon in February and the Taipei Marathon in March this year, obtaining the right to compete in the MGC. During this summer, he reportedly has struggled training in the extreme heat in Saitama, while working full time as a Saitama government employee.

Q: It was a rainy race in Boston in April, and you had to run in the rain here in Chicago again.

• Kawauchi: This is my kind of weather, so I really wish I could have performed better today.
• The headwind in the last stretch was pretty strong, but the rest wasn’t that bad.
• I don’t like my time today – it shouldn’t be like this when other runners achieved good results under this kind of condition. I should establish the environment where I can train properly during summer.

Q: It had been announced that there would be no pacemakers in this year’s Chicago Marathon [but there were after all]. How did the pacemakers set your pace?

Kawauchi: Honestly, I wanted to follow the pacemaker’s pace all the way, but I couldn’t. Again, that’s from the insufficient training during the summer. I thought I’d do better, so it’s pretty upsetting.

Q: Did you feel the pressure from being a Boston Marathon champion?

Kawauchi: I’m not proud of myself with this kind of result, when so many people cheered me from the roadside calling my name. I’ve learned here that my win in the Boston Marathon really has put weight on my name. That pushes me to improving myself, to deserve that weight.

Q: Are you preparing to turn professional next year?

Kawauchi: Yes, I hope [being a professional runner] will help me produce a better result in a big race like this. It will give me a chance, I hope, to train properly during the summer so that I can avoid a disgrace like this.

Q: What are your major problems in training?

Kawauchi: It’s the environment rather than the amount of time for training. We had an extreme heat in Saitama this past summer, so [as a pro], I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to train in a cooler location and run as much as I need without cutting any corners. It will also eliminate excuses [for insufficient training] like having to work full time.
I’m also hoping to be able to accommodate enough recovery time once I become a pro.
My immediate target is the Fukuoka Marathon. I’m going to train to reach my best conditions [next year].

Q: What were the reactions of the roadside fans today?

Kawauchi: People were really enthusiastic. At the water stations, people were so good at helping the runners, holding out the cups of water like this . . . . I was impressed that the people in Chicago truly embrace the Chicago Marathon.

Q: Thank you very much.

・・・・・・・・・・

Taku Fujimoto, 29, came in the 9th place at 2:07:57. It’s under the qualifying time for the MGC (2:08:30), making him qualified to compete in it.

Q: Congratulations for qualifying for the MGC. Did you feel that the pace was fast today?

Fujimoto: Well, it was slower than the targeted pace that’s been set during our technical meeting yesterday, so I didn’t feel pressured.

Q: Do you prefer having a pacemaker in a race?

Fujimoto: it’s better having one than not, I think. But the pace fluctuated throughout the race, so it’s your ability to keep up with the leaders that matters after all.

Q: There are many twists and turns in the Chicago Marathon route. What did you think about it?

Fujimoto: Well, for one thing, it was hard [to run] on the iron mesh on the bridge, but it was so much fun to run while receiving a lot of cheers from the people on the roadside.
Chicago is such as big city, and I got so excited to run here.

Q: How do you plan to train toward the Olympics?

Fujimoto: I’ll discuss my next target with my coach [and train for it]. “Ekiden” (road relay race) is a big deal in Japan, so I’ll set the next goal while training for ekiden.

Q: We hope to see you in Chicago again.

Fujimoto: Thank you. I really had a good time.

Q: Thank you very much.

・・・・・・・・・・

Yohei Suzuki, 24, finished 12th at 2:12:18 in his first marathon outside Japan.

Q: How was your first race overseas?

Suzuki: It was a nice going in the first half, because I could run with the flow. But then I fell behind from the leading group in the second half, and had to run alone. The wind was blowing hard too.
These are the issues I should work on for the next race.

Q: Was the route very different for you compared to the routes in Japan?

Suzuki: No, nothing particularly different. But still, there were some things that I didn’t expect, this being my first overseas marathon. For example, we had only five days before the race – I knew our pre-race conditioning wouldn’t be the same as it is in Japan, but still. That’s something I want to take into consideration for my next [overseas] marathon.

Q: How were the road conditions in Chicago? Were the roads rough?

Suzuki: The metal mesh on the bridge wasn’t easy to run on. But I enjoyed the roadside cheering very much.

Q: What’s your schedule after this?

Suzuki: I’ll run a marathon in Japan this winter. I’m hoping to run a good race there, so that I’ll be well prepared for another overseas race.

Q: It seems that your time today is better than what you produced in the Lake Biwa Marathon earlier this year.

Suzuki: The leading runners made pretty good times today, so I should have done a little better.

Q: Thank you very much.


Suguru Osako walks with Sir Mo Farah just after he passed the finish line.



Osako is awarded 100 million yen (approximately $1 million) by the Japan Industrial Track & Field Association for setting a Japanese record under 2 hours and 6 minutes.


Taku Fujimoto comes in the 9th at 2:07:57


Yohei Suzuki finishes 12th at 2:12:18.


Yuki Kawauchi, the winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon in April, is the 19th at 2:16:26