6th May 2009

Midweek Speak - Mara Yamauchi


06 May 2009

Less than two weeks after her superb second place finish at the London Marathon, it would be understandable for Mara Yamauchi to still be basking in the glow of what was a career-best performance. The 35 year old finished behind Germany’s Irina Mikitenko but ahead of a stellar field including all three medallists from last summer’s Beijing Olympics in a huge new PB of 2:23:02.

Not one to rest on her laurels, the Tokyo-based runner has already begun to focus her energies on the next major goal of 2009, the IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

Today (Wednesday 6 May) marks 100 days to go until the major athletics event of the year and Yamauchi is currently in the German capital, partly as a well-deserved break for her and husband/coach Shige, but also partly to assess the course to be used for the women’s marathon on 23 August.

“It’s part rest, part recee.” Says Yamauchi. “I just find it very useful to know the course before I race on it. If I know the course I can visualise it during training, know what to expect when I get there, know where the drinks stations are, that sort of thing.”

For the first time ever at a World Championships, the marathon will not finish in the main athletics stadium, instead it will start and finish at the iconic Brandenburg Gate.

“I have ran on it already. It’s four loops of a 10k course, with a bit added on at the end. It’s very flat, it goes past a lot of the major landmarks. The only thing that might slow it down is some quite tight turnings, but I think it will be very fast.” She says.

The course inspection has become a ritual for Yamauchi, who made similar trips to prepare for the 2007 World Championships in Osaka and last year’s Olympic Games. Her meticulous approach has seen her make steady, but significant progress in recent years resulting in a 9th place finish in Osaka and an excellent 6th in Beijing.

Now following her result in London, the media are beginning to pay greater attention to the talented Yamauchi and though she is not an athlete who craves the spotlight, she has welcomed the wider appreciation of her progress in the sport.

“I certainly don’t run for publicity. But yes, I was glad people recognised what I achieved. It’s nice to get that recognition.” She says. After her break in Germany, she will return to her Japan, where she will begin training in earnest for Berlin.

“I aim to run the Sappora Half Marathon in Japan on 5th July, after that we will go to train at altitude at St Moritz. We have been there several times before, training is really good there, we know what to expect.” In that respect, Yamauchi is similar to the Swiss resort.

Her rivals on the start-line in Berlin this August will know exactly what to expect from Yamauchi; a thoroughly-prepared athlete who has proven ability to compete with the very best marathon runners in the world.