Race preview: Bupa Great Birmingham Run - October 23, 2011
Mara Yamauchi, an outstanding top six finisher in the last Olympic marathon final, continues her ambitions of competing at the London Games with what will be a testing outing at the Bupa Great Birmingham Run on 23 October.
Yamauchi may have been a relative late starter over the endurance distance but her consistency in recent years has seen her not only shine in the Beijing Olympics three years ago, but win the prestigious Osaka Ladies Marathon and place an outstanding second at the Virgin London Marathon two years ago.
Now the 38-year-old, who is back home on British soil after spending several years living with her husband and coach Shige in Tokyo, is determined, after finally recovering from a hamstring injury, to compete for her place in Team GB for London next year.
It is a challenge the experienced veteran is adamant she can rise to and her intentions are to better the qualifying standard of 2hrs 31mins in next month’s Yokohoma Marathon.
She knows rivalry is intense with four Britons - Paula Radcliffe, Jo Pavey, Louise Damen and newcomer Claire Hallissey, who achieved it at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.
Yamauchi, relishing the challenge and after the disappointment of failing to finish in the recent Bupa Great North Run, has bounced back to world class form by winning the ASICS Grand 10k road race in Berlin last weekend.
Significantly after a spell of altitude training in St Moritz, Switzerland, she missed her personal best for the distance by just two seconds with an impressive 32min 19sec.
"I am so happy to be back racing well again after a long time out through injury and a poor come-back race at the Bupa Great North Run where I failed to finish feeling unwell," she said in a post race blog on her website.
"This time I felt much better and more like myself again. The crowds and organisers in Berlin were first-rate and we also enjoyed fantastic sunny autumn weather.
“I flew through the first half in 15:45 – not far off my PB for 5k before paying a bit for the fast early pace in the second half. But I’m really happy with my overall time and of course with winning the race.
"Now we’re back in London and I’m looking forward to my next race which will be the Bupa Great Birmingham Run at the end of October."
Yamauchi will bring bags of half marathon experience to the Midlands event which has attracted a sell out entry of 15,000 and is now part of the world-famous Bupa Great Run Series belonging to Nova International, the new organisers.
"Mara's had some great successes over the distance, particularly when winning in New York last year and also when posting an impressive personal best of 68:29 when winning the Marugame International title in Japan two years ago," said Peter Riley, the meeting's elite athletes manager.
"She's told me her hamstring injury, after an intensive training period in St Moritz, is now definitely a thing of the past. She's also clearly over the problem she suffered at the Bupa Great North Run and I'm sure she'll be looking for a big confidence booster in Birmingham before heading off to Yokohoma to get the Olympic qualifier."
Click here for further inormation on the Bupa Great Birmingham Run