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Fastest 100km Runner in world to run in World Challenge

Fastest 100km Runner in world to run in World Challenge
By Andy Milroy

The fastest 100km runner in the world plans to compete in the World 100km Challenge in Chavagnes in France on the 15th of May.

Japan’s Takashiro Sunada ran 6:13:33 at Lake Saroma last June, the fastest time ever recorded on a calibrated bicycle measured course. Takahiro Sunada was born in January 1973 and grew up in the south-west of Japan’s main island of Honshu. He first seems to have made his mark as a 10,000 metre runner, recording 28:27.0 at Hachioji in November 1994. In that year he also ran 64:19 for the Half Marathon and 2:14:34 for the full distance.

1995 was to be his best year to date in the longer event, when he finished 10th in the famous Fukuoka International Marathon in 2:12:01. He also made progress in the Half Marathon with 61:23 for 6th in Tokyo.

In 1996, the last year in which he was world ranked at the Half Marathon, Sunada recorded 62:04. On the 21st June last year Sunada decided to move up to the 100km. This is unusual for an elite marathon runner in Japan where such runners are employed as members of company teams who tend to decide the races these runners compete in. [Sunada is a team member for the Sekisui Chemical Company which focusses on marathon and relay races.]

Sunada still lives and trains in the south-west of Japan’s main island of Honshu, where the weather is mild even in winter. In summer the Honshu climate is very hot and humid. The Saroma race however is held in the most northerly island of Hokkaido , and this combined with the fact the sky was overcast meant that Sunada felt that he had never experienced such a cold day in June before. However the conditions were, in fact, almost ideal for running such a race actually , and many runners set personal bests.

The start of the Saroma 100km race was somewhat cool with a drizzle, with just a slight breeze at 5.00am. The temperature was then around the high 50s degrees F/ about 15 degrees C. The Lake Saroma course starts and finishes with two short out and back sections, with a long, curving point to point section between. The course itself is fairly flat with a rise around 40km. The runners had a tailwind or a following crosswind for most of the race, but hit a 15mph/25kph head wind from 79 to 88.5km. The temperature stayed mild during the race with the sky overcast.

Such a performance as Sunada’s was inevitable in Japan eventually. With three 100km races with over a thousand runners a piece [the Saroma race had 1500 plus starters and over a thousand finishers] the base of the pyramid is firmly established . It was only a matter of time before its pinnacle reached the highest level. The fast Chavagnes course would suit Sunada very well, and it could well be the race where the Japanese show their great ultra potential to the full for the first time on the international stage.

Official Site of the '100km de Vendée'
UltraMarathon World