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Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi breaks marathon record in bone-chilling conditions

The Japanese runner was in the Boston area in the days leading up to the New Year's race scoping out the marathon course for April

Yuki Kawauchi

In what may be the coldest sub-2:20 marathon ever run, Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi set a world record for consistency on Jan. 1.

According to Japan Running News, the marathon, which was run in temperatures as cold as -23 C, was Kawauchi’s 76th sub-2:20 marathon, the most sub-2:20s in history. As the event is held on the first day of the year, Kawauchi’s 2:18:59 clocking is a world-leading time. (By the end of the year, world-leading men’s marathon times are usually in the 2:03-2:04 range.)

The New Year’s Day marathon where Kawauchi raced is about as low-key as they come. The Marshfield Road Runners New Year’s Day Marathon in Massachusetts is free and registration is day-of only. So why would a world-class runner like Kawauchi choose to race the Marshfield (which basically a time trial as there was no competition)? Kawauchi was training on the Boston Marathon course ahead of his appearance at the April 16, 2018 race.

Kawauchi holds the records for most sub-X marathon performances between 2:12 and 2:20 and is famous for his busy race calendar.


The Japanese athlete is often referred to as the citizen runner as he is a full-time government employee. He has a lifetime best of 2:08:14 and represented Japan at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in the men’s marathon.

The 30-year-old split 1:10:29 for the first half-marathon before speeding up over the second half of the race. The finish of the race, which featured three runners with two finishers, according to the results, was on a track.

Posted by Dave Will on Monday, January 1, 2018

More video from the race can be found here.