A day after his blistering run at the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Kengo Suzuki was still coming to grips with his status as a new Japanese national record holder on Monday.
Suzuki surprised even himself by setting the national men’s marathon record of 2 hours, 4 minutes, 56 seconds in Sunday’s race along the shores of Japan’s largest freshwater lake in Shiga Prefecture.
“It’s slowly sinking into my head that I actually set a new national record,” Suzuki said in an online press conference.
“(The race) has done more damage to my legs than I had imagined, so I’m going to take some time to rest before I move on to my next goal,” he said.
Suzuki’s win made him the first Japanese runner to complete a sub-2:05 marathon. He was among the more than 300 men lined up to run the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, one of the country’s most prominent races.
The unheralded Suzuki finished 12th in the same race last year, but this year he chopped more than five minutes off his previous personal best of 2:10:21, set in 2018.
Now the 25-year-old has set his sights on the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“(I still lack) the physical toughness to endure high-intensity training and the mental toughness to fend off (other runners’) attempts to unsettle me,” he said. “It’s important that I work out consistently every day.”
The previous national record of 2:05:29 was set last March at the Tokyo Marathon by Suguru Osako, who secured qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge holds the official marathon world record of 2:01:39, which he set at the Berlin Marathon in 2018, as well as the unofficial world record of 1:59:40 from an event in Vienna, Austria, in 2019 held under several artificial conditions.
Suzuki believes himself capable of running a sub-2:04 marathon in the near future, provided he can steer clear of injury.
“I’m getting more comfortable with my marathon training program,” he said. “If I’m able to stay injury-free and I raise my fitness levels, then that time might just be reachable.”
Spectators at Sunday’s race were asked to refrain from cheering on the sidelines as a coronavirus countermeasure.
The event, first run in 1946 in Osaka, moved to Shiga in 1962. But top runners have recently been opting to run the Tokyo Marathon, held around the same time of the year and said to produce better records.
Toshihiko Seko, who booked his berth for the 1988 Seoul Olympics by winning that year’s Lake Biwa Marathon, said, “It was a fitting finale and wonderful. It was a history-changing race.”
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