With his win of the 2018 IAU 100k World Championships, Japan’s Hideaki Yamauchi is now a two-time 100k world champion. In this interview, our first with him, Hideaki talks about the men’s early race dynamics, what happened mid-race when the men’s leaders surged, how it felt to win this race for a second time, and how he got into ultrarunning as an adult after growing up as a tennis player.
Be sure to read our in-depth results article for more of the race story.
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Hideaki Yamauchi, the 2018 100k World Champion. Congratulations.
Hideaki Yamauchi: Thank you.
iRunFar: You have now won two world championships. What does that feel like?
Yamauchi: The reason I was able to win the championship once again is because of my teammates. I’m very grateful for them.
iRunFar: How did they help you perform so well?
Yamauchi: The atmosphere within the team throughout this championship including the trip to the championship, we had a very great, friendly atmosphere. Everyone was as a team. We didn’t control the athletes as a team and let everyone be themselves. We let them perform the way they hoped to. The support staff we had along, the cooking staff as well as the family crew that came along with the other athletes really helped me perform well. I’m very grateful.
iRunFar: The first half of the race was very much like one may have predicted. Many of the South Africans ran together and many of the Japanese team ran together all as one group What was the atmosphere like in that lead pack?
Yamauchi: Considering the course and the weather, we tried to stay conservative and hold back a little bit. Around 48k, everyone started to pick up the pace and run at the normal pace they run individually. From there, that’s when the game started and the competition kicked in.
iRunFar: The competition did start. You were up there, your teammate, Takehiko Gyoba, and Bongmusa Mthembu from South Africa were all at the front running hard. What was the dynamic there? Who was pushing the pace?
Yamauchi: At first when we started to pick up the pace and broke off from the pack, I felt I couldn’t follow them and it would be a tough race if I stayed with them. I stayed patient and tried to work along throughout the course and throughout the race. I knew the other athletes were under the same conditions, so as long as I did my running and kept my pace, I knew I could catch everyone. Thankfully, this time I came out on top.
iRunFar: For awhile, Mthembu went in the lead alone and had his lead and looked like he was running strong. What gave you the strength and confidence to catch him?
Yamauchi: I remembered a similar situation in 2016 at Alcazares, and I was hoping he would slow down at the end and I would be able to keep my pace and pick him up at the final part of the race. I believed that just like two years ago that this was going to happen again, and it happened.
iRunFar: You ran your race, and it was a success.
Yamauchi: Yes, exactly.
iRunFar: Did the fact that as the race developed at 70 to 80k, the South African team fell back and many of the Japanese team were still in the front. Did that give you more inspiration?
Yamauchi: One thing that really helped around the latter part of the race was that when I was running, my teammates would pass on the other side and we talked to each other and cheered each other when we passed each other. That really actually helped me.
iRunFar: You have now two world championships, I’d love to know a little about your history with running. How long? How did you start?
Yamauchi: I used to be a tennis player but not athletics or running. I started running after I graduated college. I was a tennis player before that. When I graduated college and got a job, I wanted to continue doing some kind of exercise after work. In tennis, you need to find other people to play with you and you have to find a court and if it rains then it gets cancelled. With running, you can do anytime on your own, and it’s very flexible that way. You can run literally in any weather. That’s the time I started running and the rest is history.
iRunFar: How did you find ultrarunning? How did you come into this small sport you’re so good at?
Yamauchi: At my workplace, I had a colleague who was in ultarunning. At first I wasn’t doing 100k, but I wanted to do something more than a marathon. There was a 24-hour race, so I did that. My colleague at the workplace really got me into this sport.
iRunFar: At the front of the race today, the podium of men were a little slower than their personal best or at Los Alcazares. Was it a slow pace early in the race? Was it hot? Was it the hills? What was slower today?
Yamauchi: The biggest factor today was the hills, the undulating course. Of course, the heat in the latter part of the race was also part of the tough stuff we had to deal with.
iRunFar: One final question, in two years will you try for another world championship?
Yamauchi: If I have the opportunity and get selected to the national team again, yes, I would try for another world championship again.
iRunFar: Thank you.
Yamauchi: Thank you.
Results from the 2020 Western States 100 lottery.
An essay about how good and bad days are natural in a lifetime of running.