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Running the marathon like a pro

HARRY VAN VERSENDAAL

Business as usual. Rei Tamura running down Mesogeion Avenue en route to the Panathenaic Stadium.

TAGS: Athens Marathon, Interview

If you saw Rei Tamura running in a suit and brown dress shoes on the day of the Athens Marathon, it was not because he was late for work.

The 33-year-old estate agent from Tokyo, Japan was one of the 16,000 athletes who ran the 42-kilometer course, which legend has it was covered by Pheidippides, an Athenian foot soldier who raced back to Athens after the Battle of Marathon to announce that the Greeks had defeated the Persians. However, instead of running in high-tech fabrics and super-light running shoes, this man chose to show up in full business attire.

Tamura, who first ran the Athens Marathon – also in a suit – in 2013, spoke to Kathimerini English Edition about his quirky feat.

Why did you run in a suit?

I simply wanted people in Athens to enjoy seeing a guy running in a strange costume. The Japanese are extraordinary hardworking people and the “company worker” outfit is a simple, trademark symbol for them.

But there is another reason: After the destructive earthquake of 2011, people in several foreign countries – including Greece – offered aid and prayed for us.

After we recovered and our lives returned to normal, I decided to run in a suit and business shoes to express gratitude and, at the same time, to show that we have recovered enough to run a full marathon in a costume like this.

How did it feel running in a suit?

Like being in military training. I was getting heavier and heavier because I was sweating so much.

How did people react?

I am sure it must have looked stupid to some, but most people were shouting “Bravo” – at least after their initial surprise.

Are you happy with your time?

I was aiming at four hours and 30 minutes, but I unfortunately did it in four hours and 59 minutes. I still managed to beat my time at the 2013 marathon, which was a bit over five hours.

How did it feel crossing the finishing line inside the Panathenaic Stadium?

It’s hard to put it in words. At the finish I felt I could do anything. I am also very happy to have run the original course.

Do you have any more races coming up? And, if so, will you be running them in suits?

I will keep on running in suits and business shoes with the aim of showing gratitude and entertaining people around the world. I plan to run the Great Wall Marathon in China or the Prague Marathon in May next year.

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