A Japanese team of M90 athletes crushed the 4 x 400m relay world record in their age group in Aomori, Japan, on Saturday. The four men ran to a final time of 8:49.01 at the Aomori Masters Time Trials, beating the previous M90 world record in the event by close to four full minutes. Their result received little attention compared to the runs from elites in the Diamond League and World Continental Tour events held over the weekend, but the crew’s run is no doubt one of the most impressive of the year so far, and their record will likely be incredibly difficult to beat.
World record alert:
JPN men's 90+ 4x400m team (Suruga, 91, Kudo, 92, Mitsuya, 90, Tanaka, 90) ran 90+ WR of 8:49.01 yesterday, almost 4 min under old record. Link to full video in tweet. https://t.co/NvYHShA2UP
— Japan Running News (@JRNHeadlines) May 24, 2021
Japan Running News covered the story of the record run and the team of Matashiro Suruga, 91, Yuzo Kudo, 92, Kozo Mitsuya, 90, and Hiro Tanaka, 90. Suruga led the way for the M90 team, and he got them off to a quick start, completing his 400m lap of the track in 2:07.5. Kudo was up next, and he proceeded to drop a 2:34.5 split, which, while much slower than Suruga’s, was still well under record pace.
Mitsuya ran the penultimate lap, clocking a solid 2:27.0 before passing the baton off to Tanaka, who posted a blazing 1:40 final split. The clock read 8:49.01 when Tanaka crossed the line, which was well ahead of the world record of 12:41.69. This previous record belonged to an American team, and it had stood since 2014.
This is not the first masters world record to come out of Japan, and it’s unlikely to be the last. In 2021 alone, Japan’s Mariko Yugeta has broken the W60 marathon record twice. The 62-year-old ran 2:52:13 in January at the Osaka Women’s Marathon (which beat her own world record of 2:56:54 from 2019) and lowered the mark yet again in April with a 2:52:01 run at the Itabashi Trial Marathon.
Of course, Japan’s running success isn’t limited to masters athletics, as many of the country’s races over the years have produced mind-boggling results, such as the 42 men who broke 2:10 at February’s Lake Biwa Marathon or the two 2019 track meets in which 138 runners posted sub-29-minute results in the 10,000m.