Making the most of half

NAWILIWILI — Shun Suzuki was scheduled to run the Iwaki Sunshine Marathon Sunday.

Instead, the 24-year-old from Japan will be competing in the Kauai Half Marathon today.

Why?

He was injured while running in the Hokkaido Marathon last week in Japan, dashing his hopes for a personal best over 26.2 miles.

Got all that?

“He was determined to run in the Kauai Marathon,” said Megumi Momma, chief examiner for the Iwaki Sunshine Marathon who accompanied Suzuki from Japan Friday morning. “But following the injury, he went to check with a physician. He did get clearance to run in the full marathon, but did not want to aggravate his injury.”

Momma, who has never run a marathon, will join Suzuki in the 13.1-mile race.

“This relationship with the Kauai Marathon is a good one,” Momma said. “I want to keep this relationship going and I will run in the half marathon alongside Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. to represent Iwaki marathon, and Japan. I will run for as long as I am able to, and if I’m not at the finish line, I will walk the rest of the way.”

Suzuki, a runner since he was a junior in high school, said he was looking forward to the Kauai Marathon.

“My goal was to run my personal best,” said Suzuki, who works in technology. “I heard about the course from Hidemasa Goya, last year’s participant who said the humidity is really bad. He collapsed at the finish line after crossing. I just wanted to see if I could run my best race, here.”

Suzuki earned the right to the Kauai Marathon by winning the Iwaki Sunshine Marathon in a time of two hours and 18 minutes over the field of more than 9,000 runners.

“This was his first time participating in the Iwaki marathon,” said Art Umezu, the county’s sports, cultural and sister city coordinator. “He only ran in the event after his running partner who ran in the Iwaki event invited him to join him. By winning the event, he was invited to the Kauai Marathon. The relationship between the two events will have Momma inviting the first, or second place female winner of the full Kauai Marathon to participate in the 2016 Iwaki Sunshine Marathon. Male, or female winners alternate between years, and this year, the invitation is to the female winner.”

Suzuki hails from Nan’yo City in northern Honshu (main island in Japan). It’s a city of 36,000, with an economy based on agriculture; tourism and light industry manufacturing. It’s also known for sake brewery and wineries.

For Suzuki, participating in the Iwaki marathon involved a three-hour train ride from his home in Yamagata, Umezu said. To participate in the Hokkaido marathon, he hops on a plane for an hour.

“It’s a lot closer to where I live,” Suzuki said. “The last Hokkaido marathon last week, I finished No. 15 out of 20,000 runners with a run of two hours and 21 minutes. This is better than the previous year where I was No. 20 with a run of two hours and 24 minutes. Next year, I want to win the Hokkaido.”

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