Sports Reporter

The 100km world record holder, Takahiro Sunada from Japan, has joined the Mr Price World Team to compete in the Comrades Marathon in June.

"I have had my eye on him for a few years now. It has taken a trip to Japan and lots and lots of correspondence to contract Sunada," said the team co-ordinator Ray de Vries.

"Sunada's coach uses ultra marathons to improve standard marathon times, which is completely different to any other running philosophy that we have ever encountered. We had to persuade Sunada's coach that Comrades would be the right ultra for him.

"The Japanese are great ultra runners - it is surprising that we haven't been exposed to them yet. The two great Japanese ultra marathons are Lake Saroma 100km, which is held in Hokkaido, and the River Shimanto 100km in Nakamura City - both hot and humid places, which bodes well for Comrades preparation," said De Vries. Sunada's world best time of 6:13:33 for the 100km (also his first 100km) was set on June 21, 1998, beating the previous world best time which was Jean Paul Praet's 6:16:41.

Takahiro Sunada was born on the January 19, 1973, and first seems to have made his mark as a 10 000m runner, recording 28:27.0 at Hachioji in November 1994. In that year he also ran 64:19 for the half-marathon and 2:14:34 for the full distance.

His best year to date in the longer event was 1995, when he finished 10th in the famous Fukuoka International Marathon in 2:12:01. He also made progress in the half-marathon with 61:23 for 6th in Tokyo.

Sunada will be one of the fastest marathoners in the Comrades this year - he ran 2:10:07 (fourth place) in Berlin only 15 months ago.

Sunada's Comrades debut will be watched with interest.

If his fellow Mr Price team member, Leonid Shvetsov's debut last year is anything to go by, he will be in contention.