Popular long-distance runner Yuki Kawauchi was recognized by Guinness World Records on Tuesday for having completed 100 marathons under 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Kawauchi had already received a certificate after achieving his 78th sub-2:20 race in 2018, surpassing previous record-holder Doug Kurtis of the United States.

The 33-year-old accomplished the triple-digit milestone when he finished the Hofu Marathon in 2:10:26 on Dec. 20 in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Kawauchi finished 10th in Sunday’s Lake Biwa Marathon, which was his 109th career race, with a new personal best of 2:07:27 for his 101th sub-2:20 race.

Kawauchi receives a certificate from Kaoru Ishikawa, the country manager of Guinness World Records Japan, during a news conference on Tuesday. | KAZ NAGATSUKA
Kawauchi receives a certificate from Kaoru Ishikawa, the country manager of Guinness World Records Japan, during a news conference on Tuesday. | KAZ NAGATSUKA

“It might not be too difficult to run under 2:20 once,” Kawauchi told an online news conference. “But even if it’s easy to achieve it once, in order to achieve that 100 times, you have to be able to continue the sport for a long time, you have to be able to participate in a lot of races, and more than anything you have to stay healthy. Otherwise, you can’t make it happen.

“With that said, I’m not the fastest in Japan, I’m not the strongest in Japan. But I’ve diligently continued this since I was 6 years old and it’s resulted in this record.”

The Tokyo native made his marathon debut in the 2009 Beppu Oita Marathon, in which he finished 20th with a time of 2:19:26.

Kawauchi’s mother Mika sent a congratulatory video message, saying that she was amazed by the feat accomplished by her son — who she said was not a big fan of running as a boy.

Kawauchi ran as an amateur 'citizen runner' until 2019 when he turned professional. | KYODO
Kawauchi ran as an amateur ‘citizen runner’ until 2019 when he turned professional. | KYODO

“He first ran in a 1,500-meter race when he was in elementary school but I couldn’t imagine at the time that he’d be where he is now,” she said. “Having started with that 1,500-meter race, he’s run marathons 100 times and I’ve been impressed by that.”

Kawauchi said that an injury suffered during his second year of high school, which kept him off the road in his third year, changed his way of approaching the sport — allowing him to prolong his career and continue to participate in so many domestic and international races.

“That experience changed my way of thinking,” the Gakushuin University alum said. “I’ve wanted to run pain-free ever since and I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been able to continue this as long as I have.”

Kawauchi, who continued to compete as an amateur “citizen runner” while working as a public servant in Saitama Prefecture, saw his national profile skyrocket after winning the Boston Marathon in 2018. He turned pro the following year, picking up Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Co. Ltd. as his main sponsor.

He says he has no intention of slowing his unusually busy competitive schedule, which sees him participate in more than 10 races a year.

“There was a runner who is 48 and ran under 2:20 for the first time in his career at Lake Biwa this past weekend, so I believe I could do that when I’m 49 or 50,” Kawauchi said.. “Right now, I think I can stay under 2:20 until my late 40s or around 50. But if someone else who’s 52 or 53 does that, it would probably make me feel like I can do that as well.

“I personally think I will never retire from marathons and continue to do this as long as I live.”


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