Mara Yamauchi grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, before moving to Oxford at age 8. Watching the Los Angeles Olympics aged 11, Mara was transfixed and decided she wanted to become an Olympian.
Mara enjoyed many different sports while growing up and then took up long distance running properly while studying at Oxford University. When she graduated, she wanted to become an elite athlete but wasn’t good enough to earn a living from it. So she joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and worked as a diplomat, including in Japan, for 10 years.
At age 30, she decided it was now or never to realise her dream of going to the Olympics. She tried but failed to make the GB team for the 2004 Athens Olympics, but knew that if she stuck at it, she could realise her dream. In 2008, 24 years after her dream was born, she finished 6th in the Beijing Olympic Marathon, equalling the best performance ever by a British woman in the Olympic Marathon. She also finished runner-up in the 2009 London Marathon, setting her PB of 2:23:12 which ranks her 2nd on the UK all-time list.
Mara retired from elite competition in February 2013 and now spends her time helping to motivate others to get the best out of themselves, whether that is in running or other things.
Mara helped in making an impact to young people’s lives and raising aspirations whilst working on the Sporting Champions programme, and is now looking to inspire your audience by sharing her secret of what it takes to be the best you can!
She has qualified as a British Athletics Coach Assistant and Leader in Running Fitness, and is now working towards her full Athletics Coach licence. She helps to coach a group of students at St Mary’s College, Twickenham, and coaches others individually. She is a regular speaker at club, company, and school events, and writes a monthly blog for England Athletics’ Run England website which aims to attract non-runners into running. She also does occasional commentating for the BBC on road running events such as the Virgin London Marathon.