As if all that weren’t enough, on top of the pressure to put on a winning performance, Yoshihiko had something else on his mind – a proposal. As the race went to plan with the win, he got down on one knee at the finish line and, a little wobbly from the fatigue, proposed to his girlfriend. Badwater 135 reduces many runners to weep, but not usually tears of joy. As the pair embraced, there was not a dry eye on the mountain.
Yoshihiko adds this victory to his 24-hour World Championships title in 2017 (where he ran 267.56 km in a day) and his 2018 win at the 245.3-km Spartathlon ultramarathon in Athens.
We caught up with Yoshihiko after the race to find out more about his unforgettable day.
Yoshihiko, how did you train for the“toughest race in the world?
I ran 100 km every Sunday for two months. It is training that has a strong meaning of mental reinforcement. My total weekly training volume is usually about 200 km.
What was going through your mind on the start line? Did you set out with the goal to win the race?
Winning three races – the 24-hour World Championships (which Yoshiko won in 2017) , the Spartathlon (which Yoshihiko won in 2018) and the Badwater 135 was a big goal. Rather than thinking that I could win, I challenged myself with the belief that I could only win. I felt it was interesting that I was physically and mentally calm.
What was the toughest part of this super-tough race?
Mount Whitney. The last 20km ascent to the 2500m mark puts a lot of stress on a body that’s already run over 200 km, and it was painful.
In heat like that, hydration is key – how did you manage to take on enough fluids?
Water is supplied once per mile (1.6 km). I put cold water on my feet and body each time to cool down. As it was the first race where I used so much water and ice, I felt that I was exposed to the unique requirements of Badwater.