Amateur runner Yuki Kawauchi finished third in the men's Tokyo Marathon on Feb. 27, overtaking semi-professional Japanese athletes to qualify for the world athletics championships this summer.
Kawauchi, 23, a full-time employee with the Saitama Prefectural Government, took third place in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds. Some 36,000 runners from Japan and abroad took part in the event.
As a clerical worker, Kawauchi is in charge of the evening course at Kasukabe High School in the Saitama Prefecture city of Kasukabe from 1:30 p.m. through 9:30 p.m. every day, giving him time to practice running in the morning.
When he was a student at Gakushuin University, he participated in the annual Hakone Ekiden relay race twice. Upon graduation, he was hired by the prefectural government in 2009.
After he performed poorly as the Saitama Prefecture team's anchor in the national inter-prefectural ekiden race in January, he was determined to put in a better performance in the Tokyo Marathon and wore the same uniform as he did in the January race.
During the sun-blessed Tokyo Marathon, his colleagues cheered him on along the course, with one of them in charge of school meals making a special honey-laced drink for him to take at water stations.
"The results I produced today were due to the fact that I was running in a free and fun manner," Kawauchi said after the race.
"I'd like to intensify my practice while keeping my own pace. Amateur runners have a great deal of potential. I'd like to try and see how far I can go," he continued.
Kawauchi is hoping to participate in the world athletics championships starting in August by taking vacation days off from his job.
The aspiring runner also has a good reputation at work.
"He responds to students with full respect and is a diligent and serious worker. I'm really happy about his achievement," said Toshio Matsuda, principal of Kasukabe High School.
Some 33,353 runners, including those in wheelchairs, took part in the full Tokyo Marathon, with 97.2 percent of them completing the entire distance.