Mara Yamauchi has made a strong comeback to marathon racing as she came third in an Olympic A qualifying time of 2h27:24 in Yokohama, Japan, earlier on, gaining a firm foothold in the reckoning for selection on the British team for London in the process.
That was her first outing over the distance since her 2h26:16 on home soil in London last year to move second only to Paula Radcliffe in the British rankings this season, making the fifth Briton to engage the A qualifying territory in a battle royal for berths that is working up nothing less than fascinating and looks likely to go to the wire.
Interestingly, that time might sneak Yamauchi a place behind certain-to-be-named Radcliffe in the first issue of selections on December 5 on her major championship record having placed 6th in Bejing and 9th in Osaka 2007. But what is to come about in that aspect remains to be seen.
Louise Damen dropped out very early, just after the 10km in 35:15, so apparently something wasn’t feeling alright with her and she will have now to find somewhere else to race over the distance in order to bolster up her own chances. She’s always in contention, though, as she has herself run a PB and an Olympic A qualifier of 2h30:00 in London this season.
As concerns the race itself, Yamauchi went halfway through safe, some way off the main pace, in sixth place in a split of 73:03 to work her way nicely through the second half into her eventual third, although she somewhat struggled in the dying stages as she covered the last 2,195m in just 8 mins.
Conditions were quite warm, mounting over 24C, and that seems to have taken a toll on the runners late into the race as most splits recommend.
Ryoko Kizaki and Yoshimi Ozaki made a Japanese one-two in a race carrying great weight in terms of Olympic qualification for the host nation clocking 2h26:32 and 2h26:49 respectively.
British Olympic qualifiers as of 20 November 2011
A standard: Paula Radcliffe 2h23:46, Mara Yamauchi 2h27:24, Jo Pavey 2h28:24, Claire Hallissey 2h29:27, Louise Damen 2h30:00
B standard: Susan Partridge 2h34:13, Alyson Dixon 2h34:51, Liz Yelling 2h34:58
Back in Britain and over in Leeds, spectators were treated to a fascinating duel between miler-turned-‘chaser Jonny Taylor and miler Nick McCormick over the Abbey Dash 10km that was taken to the very end, with the former grinding out a slight edge that finally earned him the win in an identical time of 29:23.
US-based Luke Cragg was third in a personal best of 29:32 on the road where Matthew Barnes followed on in fourth in 29:54 (SB), just ahead of Joe McDonald by a mere second (29:55, PB).
Not far behind, U17 Mark Scott cut an intriguing figure as he ran an excellent 30:07 to mix it well with the big guys in 12th place, the fastest known time by an athlete of this age group. A name definitely to keep in mind henceforth as he will be making his way through the junior ranks.
Susan Partridge, herself a marathon Olympic hopeful on a B standard of 2h34:13 this term, was an easy victor in women in 33:48 (SB).
Turning down to Brighton, Sussex, former steeplechaser Ben Whitby enjoyed a useful win over the Brooks-powered event over the same distance in 29:52, a big PB.