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New World 100km Best set in Japanese race4 July 1997
Earlier today [ Sunday 21st June ] one of the most respected ultra marks on the record books, Jean Paul Praetís 6:16:41 for the road 100km world best, was surpassed by a Japanese runner making his ultra debut!
The Lake Saroma course in Hokkaido, Japan has a reputation as being fast - the fastest time in the world last year was set on the course - but although 6:24 and 6:26 have been run there, few experts would have tipped it as a venue for the fastest road 100km to date on a calibrated bike measured course.
The new star in the ultra firmament is Takahiro Sunada. The 25 year old Japanese was making his ultra debut, tempted by the prospect of representing his country in the forthcoming IAU World 100km Challenge to be held at River Shimanto on the island of Shikoku in Japan on the 18th October this year.
In a field that included the two fastest Japanese 100km runners, Yasuhumi Mikami and Kiminari Kondo, Sunada blitzed the field to record a superb 6:13:33, well clear of all opposition.
So who is Takahiro Sunada? He was born on the 19th January 1973, and first seems to have made his mark as a 10,000 metre runner, recording 28:27.0 at Hachioji in November 1994. In that year he also ran 64:19 for the Half Marathon and 2:14:34 for the full distance.
1995 was to be his best year to date in the longer event, when he finished 10th in the famous Fukuoka International Marathon in 2:12:01. He also made progress in the Half Marathon with 61:23 for 6th in Tokyo.
In 1996, the last year in which he was world ranked at the Half Marathon, Sunada recorded 62:04.
Takahiro Sunada stands 167cm/5 feet 5 and three-quarter inches, and weighs 54kg/119lb/8st.7lb
Such a performance as Sunadaís was inevitable in Japan eventually. With three 100km races with over a thousand runners a piece [the Saroma race had 1500 plus starters and over a thousand finishers] the base of the pyramid is firmly established . It was only a matter of time before its pinnacle reached the highest level.