2018 Boston Marathon champion Yuki Kawauchi will race on Canadian soil for the first time at this year’s BMO Vancouver Marathon, to be held on Sunday, May 5, the race organization announced today. The marathon is less than three weeks after Boston, which Kawauchi has said he will also race again in 2019.

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Kawauchi, who says he will become a full-time professional runner in 2019, was the first Japanese man to win the Boston Marathon since 1987. 23 elites dropped out in appalling weather conditions that featured driving rain and freezing winds.

Fans speculate Kawauchi may even contest the Vancouver course record of 2:18:37, set by Kenya’s Luka Chelimo in 2015. (Kawauchi’s personal best is 2:08:14.)

2018 winner Zheng Zhiling of China and second-place finisher Margarita Quintero of Mexico have said they will also be back this year. 2018 winner Rob Watson indicates he will “probably” return also.

A Japanese man has not won the Vancouver marathon since Atsunari Saito’s victory in 1999.

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