• Kyodo

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Yuki Kawauchi, the surprise winner of this week’s Boston Marathon, on Thursday announced he plans to quit his full-time job and go pro next spring.

Upon his return to Japan from the United States, Kawauchi said one year from now he will become a full-time marathon runner instead of working for the Saitama Prefectural Government, his current employer who bars him from accepting sponsorships or appearance fees.

“The No. 1 reason is that I want to compete at the global level,” Kawauchi told reporters at Narita airport.

“I haven’t improved my personal best time in five years. I need to change my environment.”

Kawauchi works 40 hours a week and trains in his downtime, paying his own way instead of competing for a corporate team.

After years of juggling duties and struggling to make ends meet, Kawauchi said he saw the $150,000 prize money he received for winning the Boston Marathon — his first major title — as an opportunity to commit fully to the marathon.

“It really helps that my financial worries are gone,” he said.

On Monday, the 31-year-old overtook Kenyan defending champion Geoffrey Kirui in the final two miles to win the wet and windy race in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 58 seconds. He is the first Japanese in 31 years to win the prestigious marathon.

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