Mara Yamauchi set a brand new personal best of 2:25:03 as she finished third in the Tokyo International Women’s Marathon on Sunday. It rounds off a fine year for the Oxford-born runner who was 6th in the Olympic Games in Beijing in August and also won the Osaka Marathon in January.
In the last ever running of the elite race, Japan’s Yoshimi Ozakai won in 2:23:30 from compatriot Yuri Kano who was 2nd in 2:24:27. The duo were amongst a lead pack of four, that included Yoko Shibui and Kenya’s Magdaline Chemior that set off at 2:18 pace.
Whilst the 35 year old Yamauchi took a more conservative approach and settled into the chasing pack, crossing halfway in 71:28. “The pace was just suicidal, so I thought I would sit back and go at 2:23 pace and they would come back to me. In the second half I caught the Kenyan and then I caught Ozakai.” said the Tokyo-based Brit.
“But rather than going past her, she then stuck on my shoulder for about 6k and then she surged away again. I caught Shibui at 41k, but the gap was too big to the others. I was aiming for about 2:23 and I was on course at 35k, but I really struggled in the last 7k. I need to work on that.
“I’m pleased I set a PB, but disappointed I didn’t win. But I have definitely progressed. I have won my first marathon, finished 6th in Beijing and have set two PBs this year. Somehow I can’t seem to break 2:25, so I need to go away and sort that out.
“I’m going to have a bit of a break now, I’m going to jog a 10k next week in Kobi and a do half marathon in Okayama at the end of December.”
Yamauchi’s third place ends a fine British tradition at this event, which was won by Joyce Smith in the first two editions in 1979 and 1980 and also by Liz McColgan in 1991. Smith was a special guest of the race organisers, she was the official race starter and also spoke at the post-race banquet.