He has no coach, no sponsor and works five days a week as a school clerk, but that won't stop Japanese marathon runner Yuki Kawauchi from racing with the best at the world athletics championships, which start Saturday in Moscow.
Dubbed the "strongest citizen runner in history," Kawauchi squeezes races into his weekends, travelling at home and overseas before returning to work every Monday.
In doing so the 26-year-old has become a cult hero in marathon-mad Japan. "I want to show that you can compete at the world level even if you have a job like I do," he told a recent gathering of reporters.
Kawauchi's unusual success story has helped fuel the nation's ever-intensifying enthusiasm for running, which saw a spike in 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami disaster prompted many to improve their fitness in preparation for emergencies.
"I will run straight and steady, aiming for a spot in the top six," Kawauchi said of competing in the world men's marathon in Moscow on August 17.
His target may sound modest. But Japanese men have been without a world-class marathon medal since Tsuyoshi Ogata won a bronze in the 2005 worlds. Kawauchi ran a personal best of 2:08:14 in March.
Kawauchi, who reportedly spends a quarter of his salary on racing, has won 10 marathons since his first in 2009.
Mo to lead UK charge
London: Mo Farah will lead Britain's bid for World Championships glory as the star of one of the strongest teams ever to represent the UK, according to UK Athletics performance director Neil Black.
Farah will start his campaign by trying to win the 10,000 m title that eluded him in Daegu two years ago.
He will then return to the Luzhniki Stadium to defend his world 5,000m title.
If he were to win both, repeating his epic 5,000m and 10,000m double at last year's Olympics, it would etch Farah's name in the pantheon of long-distance running legends.