The trip over to watch the Aussie boys, Stephen Dinneen and Josh Harris to run the Fukouka International Marathon Championships was well worth it. We arrived in Fukouka, the scene for tomorrow’s race, on a cold wet night after traveling for around 20 hours. To stretch the legs and get the blood flowing, we went out for a jog in the damp conditions. Either way it was good to get some fresh air after a long journey. We made a quick trip to a little supermarket, got some random supplies and then off to bed. As I lay down that night, I was both tired but excited for the next day’s events. Both Steve and Josh had put so much into their training and then tomorrow would see them put it all on the line, and shoot for something special.
The next day Josh did a 40 minute morning run and 20 minute afternoon jog. Steve did one run 20min. Later that day we ran into Dennis Kimeeto, very briefly but it was cool none the less. The day before the race the boys did a very easy 15-20 minute jog, they then received there race numbers, Steve 59 and Josh 851. It was on.
The morning of the race was another cold one, but the boys would not be cold for long on this day.
The race started at midday which is very different to a marathon in Australia. There were two groups, an A and a B group. The total field was 860 or so runners, all of which had to qualify with a sub 2:40.
It was a pretty amazing site to see how strong of a running nation Japan is.
The course started around a small 2km lake outside the stadium and then both A and B groups would run into the stadium and do a large loop. Then off onto the roads.
As the boys looked up to the journey ahead, the race began and they were off. The pace at front was set for 2:06 with 3 pacers, one going to 15k and the other two going to 21k.
Both Steve and Josh settled into a big pack of twenty or so guys running at 3:15 minute Km’s. Early on it was terrific to see the Aussie boys running well for the 2:17 standard. Also early on both of the guys passed Kimetto, who later DNF.
After running sections on foot and navigating the subway two get to the km markers in time to watch and cheer the guys, the pack had split. At around 26km with Josh pushing the big group, they began to spread over the next 7kms. Both Steve and Josh hit 68minutes mid for there halfway markers.
Marathons always have there challenges, hitting the wall, experiencing cramps, overall muscle break down, and glycogen depletion. Steve being the strong athlete he is, can push through a high level of pain and maintain his form. He is both inspiring and a tough task master. He knows how to grind a runner into the hurt locker.
Returning to the track watching the winner complete the course in 2:08 and watching Yuki Kawauchi run a 2:12, was such a highlight. He’s an extremely down to earth individual who treats everyone with respect and kindness.
In the end Josh ran a 2:20, which is respectable on all accords, but not the result he deserves with all the constant solid work he’s put in. Steve finished with a solid time of 2:23 but again it’s not a true indication of the consistent and meticulous training he has been doing.
I’m grateful to have been a part of this terrific and insightful 42.2 journey. I look forward to many more.
Many thanks Klarie.