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Japanese woman, 64, runs three sub 3:05 marathons in two weeks

Women's 60+ marathon record holder Mariko Yugeta continues to push boundaries

Mariko Yugeta Photo by: B.A.A.

Sixty-four-year-old marathoner Mariko Yugeta is already a huge celebrity in the Japanese running community, and she continues to prove that age is just a number. On Sunday at the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in Nagoya, Japan, Yugeta accomplished another memorable feat, running three sub-3:05 marathons at three different races in a span of 14 days.

Yugeta at the 2022 Boston Marathon. Photo: B.A.A.

On Feb. 26, Yugeta kicked things off at the Himeji Castle Marathon, where she ran 3:04:57 (winning her 60-64 age category). The following week, Yugeta won her age category for the fourth consecutive year at the 2023 Tokyo Marathon, posting a time of 3:04:18. Seven days later in Nagoya on March 12, she posted another sub-3:05 time, in 3:04:30, winning her age category once again.

Yugeta is the first 60+ woman to break three hours for a marathon, holding the women’s 60-64 world record of 2:52:13 from the 2021 Osaka Marathon. Since her world record run, she has dipped under the three-hour mark four times.

Last year, Yugeta ran both Tokyo and Nagoya within seven days (both under 3:05) in preparation for the Boston Marathon, where she hoped to lower her world-record time; she fell short, but still won her 60-64 age category in 3:06:27.

mariko Yugeta
Yugeta at the Saitama Marathon in 2019, where she finished 18th overall in 2:56:54

Yugeta got into running by watching the finishers at the 1979 Tokyo International Women’s Marathon, when she was 21. She spent the next three years training, making her marathon debut in 1982 in Tokyo, where she ran 3:09:21, which was good for 34th place in the Tokyo International Women’s Marathon.

Forty years later, Yugeta is still getting faster. On May 13, she’ll turn 65 and enter the W65-69 age bracket, where she will challenge the 3:07:51 world record of her Japanese compatriot, Kimi Ushiroda.

In a 2021 interview with the nutrition brand Maurten, Yugeta said she doesn’t think about her age when she runs.

When Yugeta isn’t running, she is a mother to four children and teaches high school phys-ed, training alongside her 16- and 17-year-old high school students.

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