Daughter’s spirit helps father complete Tokyo Marathon

For a 56-year-old father from Miyagi Prefecture, this year's Tokyo Marathon was more than just a punishing run. He was slogging away for his beloved daughter, Asuka, who was killed in the tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.

"I feel she is staying with me," said Katsuyoshi Nakamura, a former Self-Defence Forces member from the town of Shichigahama.

"Please help, Asuka." Nakamura repeatedly said to his daughter, who died at the age of 19. He suffered cramps in both of his thighs from around the 30-kilometer mark. When he felt he could not continue, he appealed to his daughter. "I feel as though she is all around me," he said.

His daughter, who longed to be a pastry chef, was set to enter a professional training school in Tokyo. On the day of the disaster, she was at a convenience store in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, with her boyfriend and her dog.

Her father was in charge of supplying food and clothes at an SDF camp in Sendai. His wife, Harumi, 49, told him their daughter was missing. Nakamura promptly sent an e-mail to her, but did not receive a reply. Despite his desire to search for his daughter, he continued to carry out his duties. He returned home a week after the disaster, but Asuka's whereabouts were still unknown. Nakamura returned to the camp, taking only a change of underwear with him. His daughter's body was found right after that.

Nakamura, who had run as a hobby, threw himself fully into running, as though to banish his sorrow. He completed a full marathon last year. This year, he felt like dropping out of the race, but he kept thinking, "I don't want Asuka to see me behave disgracefully." He finally limped over the finish line.

Nakamura currently has a dream to run in the town of Tagajo, which was the last place his daughter was seen alive, as a torch runner for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

"I want to show [my daughter] my cool running with the torch in my hand," Nakamura said. He intends to keep running, hoping Asuka will see him running with his head high.Speech