translated and edited by Brett Larner
Tormented by injuries and having been on the brink of retirement, Fumihiro Maruyama (26, Asahi Kasei) has chosen tomorrow's Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon for his second marathon. With Asahi Kasei's long legacy behind him, including Koichi Morishita's 1992 Beppu-Oita win that took him to the Barcelona Olympics and a silver medal, Maruyama's desire to succeed and earn a place on the London World Championships team is strong. "I want to take a big step up and win so that I can compete at the world level," he said.
At last March's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon Maruyama made an aggressive marathon debut, surging away from the all-Japanese chase pack at 30 km. But at 39 km he was run down and finished as the fourth Japanese man, missing the Rio de Janeiro Olympic team. His time of 2:09:39 meant he had achieved a rare sub-2:10 debut, but, he said with lingering regret, "I didn't feel any happiness about that at all."
Maruyama looking very strong but this is a long way out for a surge in debut. pic.twitter.com/Evsse1Y2jc— Japan Running News (@JRNLive) March 6, 2016
Maruyama is a native of Sahaku, Oita and joined Asahi Kasei eight years ago after graduating from Oita Tomei H.S. His life as an athlete, he said, has been "a wild ride." Taking time to develop, his breakthrough came in his fourth pro season at the February, 2013 Kumanichi 30 km where he finished 2nd by three seconds behind Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) in 1:29:34. A month later he won the National Corporate Half Marathon in an outstanding 1:01:15, at the time becoming the eighth-fastest Japanese man ever. "My body was finally getting to the level I'd always imagined myself at," he reflected.
But in October that year he started experiencing pain in his left knee, and for an entire year he was unable to train as the problem persisted. He kept avoiding surgery on his leg, but, deciding that he was ready to retire, in November, 2014 he finally underwent the needed surgery. Luck was on his side, and after a month of hospitalization and rehabilitation he was back on his feet. Just six months after the surgery he returned to racing, winning a track 5000 m at the Asahi Kasei-hosted Golden Games in Nobeoka meet.
At Lake Biwa Maruyama ran his marathon debut with a partially ruptured right Achilles tendon. After the race he underwent rehabilitation until August. He is still worried about not having put in enough training over the summer, but, feeling good heading into Beppu-Oita he said, "I want to run the kind of race that will let people know I've become strong." He is bound to get a boost in his World Championships bid from the hometown Oita crowds. Maruyama doesn't feel that he has returned to his original pre-injury level yet, but looking forward with a positive mindset he said, "I hope my career will be one that lets me look back and think that it was a good thing that I had these periods of being injured."