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Known as the “citizen runner” in Japan, Yuki Kawauchi is one of the nation’s most popular sport figures as he balances marathon training with a full-time government job. His widespread popularity may grow even larger after what he did at his hometown race, the Kuki Half-Marathon.
Kawauchi ran the half-marathon (21.1K) in a suit including dress pants, a dress shirt, a sport coat, a tie, and a belt in a remarkable 1:06:42, 18 minutes faster than the Guinness World Record in the event, to finish third in the race. Kawauchi told Japan Running News that the course is not certified and thus is not likely to be considered an official record.
American Gihan Amarasiriwardena is the official world record holder having run 1:24:41 at the Happy Holidays Half MerryThon in Massachusetts on Dec. 6. Amarasiriwardena, the co-founder of the suit manufacturer Ministry of Supply, ran the record to bring attention to his company’s line of menswear.
Canadian Nicholas Mizera held the world record prior to Amarasiriwardena.
— ぴの (@pinobubu) March 13, 2016
Kawauchi is one of Japan’s fastest long-distance runners with lifetime bests of 2:08:14 in the marathon and 1:02:18 in the half-marathon. The Canadian records in the events are 2:10:09 and 1:01:28, respectively.
Though he has never won an individual medal at a major international competition (worlds or Olympics), he remains somewhat of a hero in Japan for balancing work and marathon running. He races frequently, even at small races, giving him plenty of exposure among locals and has represented Japan at the IAAF world championships and the IAAF world half-marathon championships.
— ▽・x・▽ tru2 (@M31007) March 13, 2016
The 29-year-old had Olympic aspirations but finished outside of qualifying for Rio 2016.