NARITA, Chiba Prefecture--Yuki Kawauchi, who won this year’s Boston Marathon despite having to train around his full-time work as a civil servant, will finally quit his day job and turn professional.

“I want to join races around the globe,” the 31-year-old runner told reporters at Narita Airport on April 19 upon his return from the United States. “I have less than 10 years left to run to the best of my ability. I don’t want to have any regrets when I die.”

Kawauchi said he would leave his job with the Saitama prefectural government in March 2019, the end of the fiscal year.

He said he had hinted to his close friends that he wanted to quit work and become a full-time athlete, but the $150,000 (15.9 million yen) in prize money for winning the April 16 Boston Marathon cemented his decision.

“I will become a professional runner, and I will use (the prize money) as a support fund for my training,” he said.

Top-level runners in Japan are usually funded through corporate sponsorships or are hired by companies to join their corporate sports teams.

As a civil servant, Kawauchi has had no sponsors. And although he can receive prize money, he cannot accept fees from race organizers even if he is invited as a guest runner.

Despite having to work during the day, Kawauchi has had remarkable success in the many marathons he runs every year. His amateur status also made him a media sensation in Japan, and he became known as “the citizen runner.”

With his victory in the prestigious Boston Marathon, Kawauchi will inevitably receive many more invitations from race organizers.

“I always wrote ‘breakthrough’ when I was asked for an autograph, but I have recently been contradicting myself because I have been unable to break the status quo,” Kawauchi said. “I would like to run as much as I like from next April.”

Asked about becoming a “non-civil servant” runner, he said, “I believe I could show that there is an alternative way of being an athlete as the number of competitive runners among civil servants is increasing.”

Kawauchi won the Boston Marathon in cold and rainy conditions.

On the topic of competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he said, “I cannot be positive because I am not very good in hot weather.”