translated and edited by Brett Larner
At the Osaka International Women's Marathon on Jan. 27, first-time winner Mara Yamauchi (34, U.K) moved one step closer to an appearance in the Beijing Olympics. Not only an elite runner but also a high-ranking member of the British Foreign Office, Yamauchi passed Osaka leader Kayoko Fukushi at the 34.6 km point to take her first marathon victory in a PB time of 2:25:10. "The last 4 or 5 km were very hard, but I tried as hard as I could. I'm very happy," Yamauchi told reporters in Japanese. "This win was big for me. In Beijing I think I can run with the best in the world."
One sign of how big the win was for Yamauchi was that the night following her victory her blog* received 30,000 hits, a record. "I usually get about 5 hits a day," she laughed.
In preparation for the Beijing Olympics, Yamauchi has been on leave from the Foreign Office since 2006 to focus on her training. Her Japanese husband Shigetoshi, 36, also quit his job in March last year to work full time as Mara's manager and training assistant. Her next race will be this Sunday, Feb. 3 as defending champion in the Ome Marathon women's 10 km, where Yamauchi will go for her third straight victory. Following that will be the Matsue Ladies' Half Marathon in March and the London Marathon in April**. "There's no pressure, I just want to enjoy running these races." With her Osaka and Ome titles in hand, Yamauchi is close to realizing her Beijing dream.
Mara Yamauchi: b. 8/13/73, Oxford, U.K. 162 cm, 50 kg. Graduated from St. Anne's College, Oxford Univ., 1995. Ran XC and 10,000 m. Ran debut marathon at 2004 London Marathon. At 2006 London finished 6th in 2:25:13 to become all-time #2 British woman. Entered British Foreign Office in 1996; currently on leave. Married Japanese husband Shigetoshi Yamauchi in 2002.
*Mara Yamauchi's blog is available in English and Japanese.
**When asked for verification of this statement about her upcoming race schedule, Yamauchi told JRN, "I'm not running London, no way!" She also indicated that she is only doing Ome at a jog as she is too sore to race.