Britain’s second fastest ever marathon runner eyes new challenges
Mara Yamauchi has today announced the end of her elite career, though stresses that she won’t be giving up running altogether.
After becoming Britain’s second fastest ever marathon runner and competing in both the Beijing and London Olympic Games, the 39-year-old has decided that the time is right to move on to new challenges.
“I have achieved my childhood dream of becoming an Olympian and enjoyed many years training and competing as an elite athlete,” she explained. “To be able to do what you love as your job is a rare and special privilege and I am very grateful to all the people who have enabled me to do that.
“I have now decided that it’s time to leave elite competition behind and instead I will run for enjoyment and to stay healthy.”
Touching on the Olympic legacy, Yamauchi expressed how she hopes to use her experiences to help others take as much from running as she has.
“Running teaches us many useful life skills – you can achieve your dreams if you put your mind to it, that hard work reaps rewards, and that perseverance will get you through tough times,” she said.
“I hope I can share my experience of learning through running, with people from all walks of life. Now that building a legacy from the 2012 London Olympics is fresh in our minds, it’s more important than ever to embrace sport and the valuable contribution it makes to our lives.”
Yamauchi was a frequent competitor in the Virgin London Marathon, competing six times, and finishing runner-up in 2009 behind German Irina Mikitenko in a time of 2:23:12.
She regards finishing 6th in the Beijing Olympics and winning the 2008 Osaka Marathon as the most memorable moments of her career but says the most enjoyable thing was just going out training with friends.
Yamauchi will return to her previous employment at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, but stresses she will remain active in the running world.
“I am looking forward to the next stage of my life, and to being able to do things which you can’t do as an elite athlete. Although I will return to work, I hope to stay involved in the running world as much as I can.”