FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Yamauchi Looking for Big PR
LONDON, April 23, 2009 -- Mara Yamauchi will fly the flag for Britain in
the women's elite race on Sunday and the Japan-based athlete is looking to
take "a big chunk" from her personal best in what will be her fifth Flora
London Marathon in the last six years.
Yamauchi equalled Britain's best ever placing in an Olympic women's
marathon when she was sixth in Beijing and then she lowered her PB for the
second time in 2008 to 2:25:03 when she was third in the Tokyo marathon
"The last couple of times I've improved my record I've done it by seven
seconds and three seconds," she says. "It's frustrating. This time I want
to take a big chunk from it.
"I've got 2:22 or 2:23 in me, I know that, but everything has to go right
on the day. Hopefully, that day will be Sunday."
Yamauchi is "only" the 11th quickest in the 18 strong women's elite field
for 29th London Marathon, but she is a determined runner and plans to stay
with the leaders as they go through half way in a swift 71 minutes. It will
be hard, but then Yamauchi, who lives and trains in marathon-mad Japan, is
no stranger to hard work.
"All I seem to do is train, shower, eat and sleep in constant cycles," she
says. "But there are no short cuts in marathon running – you have to train
hard and run hard.
"I have learned to focus on myself and getting the best of my body. I think
I've hit a plateau recently where I'm running around 2:25 and I know I can
run faster than that. That's the aim for Sunday."
Yamauchi won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal over 10,000m in 2006 and has
a half marathon best of 68:47. But she has adapted her training to focus
more on the marathon in recent months - this year she spent time training
at altitude in New Mexico, and has done "more slower training".
"You are actually not running that fast in the marathon so I've been trying
to do more volume at slower speed," she explains. "I hope that will make me
a better marathon runner even if I'm slower at 10,000m or half marathon."
Following Paula Radcliffe's withdrawal from the race last month with a
broken toe, Yamauchi is all too aware that she is again Britain's sole hope
of a decent placing. Only she and Tomas Abyu in the men's race are part of
the elite line-ups for 2009.
"I am sorry for Paula that she isn't here," says Yamauchi. "I have to be
focused on myself but it is a shame there are so few Britons this year."
Yamauchi finished sixth in her last two outings, in 2006 and 2007, after
finishing 17th in 2004 and 10th in 2005. It's the kind of steady
improvement she believes other Britons could achieve if they are prepared
to put their minds -and time - to it.
"I hope my performance and improvements will inspire more Britons to keep
going and keep at it, because you can improve. It would be great if we
could field a really good team at the Olympics in 2012.
"I absolutely think there is the talent out there. But to be a top marathon
runner you have to devote your life to it. It's extremely hard and it
affects your family life."
A former diplomat with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Yamauchi became
a full-time athlete in 2005 after first representing Britain back in 1997.
She is 35 now, but hopes that she's still competing at her best in three
years' time. "It will be special to do an Olympic marathon in your home
country," she says.
It would be pretty special to make the podium on Sunday too. With the
Olympic and world champions in the field, plus the last two London
champions among 10 women who have already broken 2:25, that will clearly be
a tough task.
But if she can hang on to their heels into the later stages of the race,
Mara Yamauchi may just achieve her goal and take a few of those big chunks
from her personal best.