Yuki Kawauchi, 31, won this year’s Boston Marathon despite having to work 40 hours a week, 1pm to 9pm each day, in the administrative office of a high school in Saitama Prefecture in Japan. Top-level runners in Japan are usually funded through corporate sponsorships or are hired by companies to join their corporate sports teams, but, as a civil servant, Kawauchi has no sponsors. And although he can receive prize money – he won US$150,000 for winning the Boston Marathon - he cannot accept fees from race organisers even if he is invited as a guest runner.
His amateur status has made him a media sensation in Japan where he has become known as ‘The Citizen Runner’. Even after winning in Boston, he had to telephone the principal of his high school to ask permission to stay 24 hours longer for the winner’s press conference. He is aiming to run 100 marathons under 2 hours 20 minutes before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.