In her ninth time representing Japan at the IAU 100k World Championships, Mai Fujisawa took third in what she calls one of her best 100k races to date. In this interview, our first with Mai, she talks about her long history with road ultramarathons and how she started running in the first place, how she thinks her performance compares to ones in her past, and if and how the Japanese women worked together toward their team victory.
Be sure to read our in-depth results article for more of the race story.
Mai Fujisawa Post-2018 IAU 100k World Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Mai Fujisawa after her third-place finish at the 2018 IAU 100k World Championships. Congratulations!
Mai Fujisawa: Thank you.
iRunFar: You are a frequent runner at the World Championships. How many times have you represented Japan at the World Championships?
Fujisawa: Nine times.
iRunFar: Is it still exciting for you?
Fujisawa: Yes, very exciting and fun.
iRunFar: You had a great race and a consistent race. How did the first half of your race go?
Fujisawa: In the first half of the race I felt really great. I was doing really well. In the latter half of the race, I slowed down. Still, third place is my best result to date at the World Championships. Yesterday’s time is the best I have at any of the World Championships.
iRunFar: Wow. Practice, practice, practice and now your best run at the World Championships. How does your time compare to your best at 100k?
Fujisawa: Only a minute difference from my actual personal best.
iRunFar: That’s amazing. Was that at Lake Saroma 100k this year? The conditions there were perfect.
iRunFar: Does it feel like this was a better race for you, because you ran close to the same time but under much more difficult conditions?
Fujisawa: Yes, I put everything out on the course yesterday.
iRunFar: The Japanese women were so consistent. Most of the team worked together. Were you part of the group that worked together for most of the race?
Fujisawa: I actually broke off from the rest of the group.
iRunFar: You were running by yourself, but you could see your teammates when you were running out and back. Did you encourage one another?
Fujisawa: For me, of course we encourage each other when we passed each other on the other side of the course. The other three runners are also strong runners, so in terms of team competition I didn’t feel any concerns at all that we were going to stay consistent.
iRunFar: Not only did you have a good race for yourself, but the Japanese women’s team, the men’s team and the men’s individual podium finishers did well. Is that special, to have one race where everyone runs so well?
Fujisawa: Yes, it’s a result of great teamwork and having a great team.
iRunFar: Nice. This is our first time interviewing you. I’d love to know more about your history with sport. For how long have you been a runner? Did you do other sports before that?
Fujisawa: I started running about 10 years ago and started ultramarathons about the same time.
iRunFar: How did you hear about ultrarunning and why did you start?
Fujisawa: My senior colleague at work told me about a 100k race in Saroma. I said “Okay, I’ll participate.” So I did. I started running, and I started running ultras one year after.
iRunFar: You’ve been on nine teams. You must have been on the Japanese championship team very quickly.
iRunFar: Well, congratulations. I hope to see you in Winschoten, Netherlands, in two years for the next World Championships.
Fujisawa: Thank you.