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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Japan's Jo Fukoda to lead international charge for Green Machine charge at Comrades Marathon

Japanese ultra marathon star Jo Fukuda will lead the international charge at this year's Comrades Marathon, after confirming that he will run the world's oldest ultra marathon in the colours of the Nedbank Running Club. The 32-year-old wrapped his preparations by becoming the 2023 Global Wings for Life World run champion on Sunday with the catch car catching him after 4:09:51 on the road, during which he ran 69.01km. Fukuda says that was his last serious run before tackling Comrades.

Fukuda after winning the 2023 Global Wings for Life title. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"The Wings for Life run was part of my very tough training for Comrades, so I am happy where I am at, and the training is going well for Comrades. I have been in Kenya before where I trained with Eliud Kipchoge in the NN team so I’m really looking forward to come to South Africa," explained the man who is the holder of a 2:09:52 standard marathon personal best which he set when he finished third at the 2018 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.

Fukuda says that he has has been planning to race The Ultimate Human Race since January when he set an unofficial Japanese 50km record, running 125 laps around a 400m track in 2:47. "After that run I thought to myself I think I can do well in ultras and after I received a message from my friend Cuan talking about Comrades, I decided to attempt it this year!"

Fukuda has trained alongside the marathon world record holder Eluid Kipchoge in Kenya as part of his NN team. Photo Credit: Supplied.

The man from The Land of The Rising Sun will be under pressure to deliver given his nation's pedigree in ultra distance running. Japan have won the most gold medals at the 100km World Championships with the great Hidaeki Yamauchi won three consecutive gold medals between 2016 and 2019. Moreover, Nao Kazami ran 5:39 for third place during the 2019 UpRun from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. Fukuda is aiming to perform even better than that in the 90km odyssey.

"I know it’s the world’s oldest and traditional ultra-marathon in the world and if you win it, you can consider yourself a real champion. I only think about winning so that is what I am coming out for and want to achieve," he said.

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