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Marathon JapanDistance Racing and Civic Culture$
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Thomas R. H. Havens

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824841010

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824841010.001.0001

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From Peak to Plateau

From Peak to Plateau

Elite Runners in the 2000s

(p.116) 6 From Peak to Plateau
Marathon Japan

Thomas R. H. Havens

University of Hawai'i Press

Takahashi Naoko won the women’s marathon at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and was widely admired for her persistence, patience, self-discipline, and humility. Her success helped fuel the boom in civic racing in Japan. Takahashi turned professional in 2001 and set a new world standard in the women’s marathon that year in Berlin. The following year Takaoka Toshinari recorded the fastest marathon ever run by a Japanese man. Japan’s men’s and women’s marathon squads both won the informal team championships at the 2004 Athens Olympics, led by Noguchi Mizuki’s gold medal in the women’s race. Japanese marathoners performed poorly at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and little better at London in 2012. From 2008 on, many elite races in Japan began admitting citizen runners and generated huge fields. Kawauchi Yūki, an unaffiliated amateur, emerged as a celebrity in 2011 in defiance of both corporate track teams and professional sponsorships.

Keywords:   Japan, marathon, Takahashi Naoko, Noguchi Mizuki, Takaoka Toshinari, citizen runners, Kawauchi Yūki, Olympics

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