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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 8, 2001

Japan runner proves age no big deal

By Mike Tymn
Special to The Advertiser

When the results showed that 50-year-old Yoshihisa Hosaka of Japan had finished in 13th place in the 1999 Honolulu Marathon while recording 2 hours, 32 minutes, 27 seconds, officials and reporters wondered if he might have reversed directions too early, as has happened, and not run the full 26.2 miles.

Or perhaps the computer didn't pick up his proper age.

But they would learn that Hosaka was for real. For someone his age to run that fast is not unprecedented. Jack Foster, the 1975 Honolulu Marathon winner, clocked 2:28:15 at age 50 in the 1982 Honolulu Marathon. But everyone knew that Foster was from another planet.

Hosaka is an alien, but not that kind of alien. He's from Shimoda-shi in Southern Japan, where he works as a cook. Last year, he proved he is slightly more human by finishing 21st in 2:36:44.

"I hope to run about 2:33 this year," said Hosaka, through an interpreter, after competing in the Diamond Head duet race at Kapi'olani Park yesterday. It will be his eighth Honolulu Marathon. His first one here, in 1991, was his fastest, a 2:31:19.

"It takes me a little longer to recover from my training runs, and so I am not quite as fast," Hosaka said.

Although his fastest marathon, a 2:25:28 effort, was recorded in Japan when he was 44, Hosaka said that the Honolulu Marathon is his favorite race. "I love Hawai'i," he said. "I like the race because there are so many volunteers and the race is well organized."

Hosaka, who is 5-foot-9 and 143 pounds, said that he tries to average 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) a day in his training, 10K in the morning before work and 20K after work. Most of his training is in mountainous terrain.

Although he ran in high school, he did not take up running again until his mid-30s and he did not reach a peak until his early-40s. "Yes, I often wonder what I might have done," he said when it was suggested he might have been an Olympic-caliber runner had he been competing during his 20s. "But then maybe I would not be doing so well now."