To the glory of others...Reggae Marathon winner pleases the crowd
The first though that comes to mind when speaking with this year's Reggae Marathon winner, Kota Taniguchi, is how much every action he makes seems motivated by the desire to please others...his family, other members of his community, his friends.
Taniguchi, who hails from the Tottori Prefecture in Japan, attended Tokyo Agricultural University where he studied International Economics.
While there, he trained in athletics and after graduation was hired by a company that allowed him to train.Though he was eventually fired, Tanuiguchi was still in excellent shape and decided to try his legs at the marathon.
His ran his first marathon about two years ago, the Osaka Marathon and finished in a time of 2:44.00, excellent for a first try.
In March of the same year he ran another marathon and again won. The result so thoroughly pleased the locals that the 28-year-old hasn't been allowed to stop participating.
"More than anything else, seeing the pleased faces of those close to me, is such as wonderful feeling," he told The STAR via interpreter.
"The Tottori course is close to (my) home and the people have a very tight connection and it's a tight knit community and every year they prepare a big banner for (me) and it's just so big a difference," Taniguchi added.
Taniguchi, now a firefighter, switched careers for the same reason.
"I started thinking about what I could do as a profession and when I ran the marathon and made all the people around me close to me very happy. I started to think how can I please the people that are around me, what's the best thing I can do to please (them). I started thinking if something happens to all the people all around me what are the things I can do to help and in case of a fire, or if somebody collapses, what can I do to help," he explained.
The feeling of appreciation is mutual though as the athlete doesn't believe he could win a race without support from his community.
"I don't believe that I won the marathon by myself. I couldn't have won without the support my family gave me and the cooperation through the people from my workplace," he said.
The Japanese came to Jamaica as part of an exchange between the Westmoreland municipal government and the Tottori prefecture. It was his trip outside Japan and after traveling for two days, won the marathon in Negril in a time of 2:38.49.
The plan is for the local winner of the Reggae Marathon to travel to Tottori at a later date to compete in a marathon there.
Running in Jamaica is a lot different than running back home in Japan.
"It's very hot here (Jamaica). Before running all I thought about was how beautiful the ocean and how wonderful the nature and the environment of Jamaica was. Then when I began running I began noticing that the temperature here is extremely hot and that he reggae marathon was very difficult for me. The reggae music helped me get through the ordeal," he said.
Meanwhile, Taniguchi says he will continue running as long as he can continue to make others happy.
"As long as I can continue making people in my region pleased with my performance in the marathon then I'll continue coming out. If they don't mind what my performance is like, even if I get slower, then I guess I'll just keep on participating in marathons," he concluded.