Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chihiro Tanaka

At the end of the year I'm posting this as a reminder of what can be done, to inspire all of us to do the best we can, this coming year and always.

Chihiro's story holds special meaning for me as last week she was the ladies winner of the Kakogawa Marathon. The one I did my recent PB in.

I spotted her twice on the turn arounds, she was about five minutes ahead of me, and both times she yelled to me to, in English, "Come on let's go!" This meant the world to me and helped motivate me to keep running strong. She really is a champion and if we can, like her, all be so friendly/supportive kind and hardworking then, not to be too melodramatic, the world will be a better place.


(The following taken from JAPAN RUNNING NEWS)

Chihiro Tanaka
Born: Nov. 13, 1969 in Hyogo, Japan
Marathon PB: 2:29:30 (Nagoya International Women’s Marathon 2002)
Other PBs: 5000m: 16:14.50 10000m: 33:32 Half-marathon: 1:12:00

Other key marathon performances:
2:33:30 (winner, Hokkaido Marathon 1997)
2:34:11 (winner, Hokkaido Marathon 2003)
2:37:03 (Tokyo International Women’s Marathon 2008)
2:38:08 (Nagoya International Women’s Marathon 2009)

Chihiro Tanaka is one of the great originals of Japanese distance running. Her PB of 2:29:30 stands as the best performance ever by an amateur Japanese runner, male or female, and is all the more remarkable in that it was the first and, until this past January, only sub-2:30 by a Japanese mother.

A talented 800 m runner and long-distance relay specialist in her school days, Tanaka bowed to pressure from her parents not to become a professional, instead taking a regular job. Later in life she discovered the marathon and was transformed. Working with her high school era coach, Tanaka went from a 3:19:49 debut at the 1994 Honolulu Marathon to a 2:33:30 victory at the 1997 Hokkaido Marathon. Her win made Tanaka a national name as it was almost unprecedented for an amateur to come out on top of one of Japan’s major marathons.

From 1998 to 2000 Tanaka took time off to have her first child and returned stronger than ever. She finished 2nd in the 2001 Nagano Marathon in 2:32:05, then in 2002 had the run of her life, clocking her best time of 2:29:30 and finishing 4th in Nagoya, one of the most competitive women’s marathons in the world. Far from through, she won Hokkaido again in 2003. Then it was time for her second child.

Three years later Tanaka was back for Phase III of her marathon career. These days she runs six marathons a year, but her quality is undiminished. In November 2008 she ran 2:37:03 to finish 10th in the world class Tokyo International Women’s Marathon. Three weeks later she won the Naha Marathon, and after only two weeks more she won her second-straight Kakogawa Marathon. She put in a strong 2:38:08 at March’s Nagoya International Women’s Marathon to begin her 2009 season and followed with a 2:41:21 8th place finish at the Nagano Marathon on Apr. 19.

The Copenhagen Marathon will be Tanaka’s second time racing in Europe and she is confident of her chances for both a win and for her best time in recent years. As she nears her 40th birthday Tanaka’s running continues to lead the way for women marathoners both in Japan and worldwide.

By the way she won the Copenhagen marathon too.


  1. Scott, that's great that she encouraged you - and realised you needed encouragement in English, and not Japanese ;)

    Seriously though, hers is a great story, and just shows what 'amateur' runners can do. I can foresee your paths crossing at some time in the future - at a time of around the 2:37 mark.

  2. I hope she runs Tokyo again. I will be sure to cheer for her.
    And thanks for your advice on drinking.

  3. Spot on Scott!

  4. Great story, Scott! Talking of being friendly & supportive.....thank you so much for your encouraging comments during 2009.

    Have a very successful 2010!

  5. That is an impressive resume to have on her behalf. You must be very proud that now you are getting encouragement from people that have achieved outstanding results. The improvement you have shown over the past few years is truely remarkable.

    However your 3k time is very soft ;-)

  6. Yes Shane,

    I'm going to do something about that early this year ;)

    Glad to see you back blogging.

  7. Scott checkout this video and tell me what you think