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Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi plans to turn pro next year

Kyodo

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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