Mara currently holds the second fastest time by a British woman over the marathon, behind the world-record holder, Paula Radcliffe.

She started running while at school, but took up running seriously when she was an undergraduate at university, competing mainly in cross-country races. After finishing her studies, Mara joined the British Foreign Ministry, in 1996. In 1997 she earned her first GB vest, finishing 38th in the European Cross Country championships. In 1998 she won the English National Cross Country championships.

She ran her first marathon in April 2004 at the London marathon, placing 17th in 2:39:16. She also earned selection for GB again, running in the Chiba ekiden relay race in Japan in November 2004. In 2005 she ran her second marathon (2:31:52) at London, earning selection for the 2005 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki, where she finished 18th and won a team bronze medal. In November 2005 she ran another PB, this time in the Tokyo International Women’s marathon (2:27:38).

In December 2005 she was selected for GB’s support scheme for elite athletes and in 2006 she took unpaid leave from the FCO to focus on preparing for the 2008 Beijing Olympic marathon, and moved to Tokyo, Japan with her husband. Yamauchi won the bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games 10,000m race. In April 2006 she became the second fastest British woman ever behind world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, finishing 6th in the London marathon (2:25:13). On September 10, 2006, Mara won the Rotterdam Half Marathon, finishing in 1:10:36. On 22 April 2007 Mara was the leading Briton in the London Marathon, finishing 6th.

In April 2007 she joined Second Wind AC, and set a new personal best in winning the 2008 Osaka Marathon in a time of 2:25:10.  At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Mara stepped out of the shadow of Paula Radcliffe (who came 23rd) and equalled the best performance by a British woman in the marathon by finishing 6th in a time of 2 hrs 27 mins 29 secs.  In 2009, she came second in the London Marathon setting a personal best time of 2:23:12 after earlier setting a half marathon PB when she won in Marugame (68m 29secs).She also competed for Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics.

In February 2013 Mara retired from elite competition. She is now working as a freelance coach, speaker and writer, and continues to run for enjoyment and to stay healthy.

Giving Back

I have helped the Trust fund-raise through providing running master-classes and attending run events which have raised money for the Trust. I spoke on behalf of the Trust at a youth development event during Glasgow's 2014 Commonwealth Games. As a graduate of the Trust's Champion Voice programme, I am now aiming to apply for a role in sports governance.  

Competitive record

2012: Member of Team GB, London 2012 Women's marathon

2011: Yokohama Marathon, 3rd 2010: 

2010: New York City Half-marathon, winner, and 10th in London Marathon

2009 – London Marathon (2nd place)

2008 – Olympic Games – Beijing (6th place)

2008 – Tokyo Marathon (3rd place)

2008 – Osaka Marathon (Gold)

2007 – London Marathon (6th place)

2006 – London Marathon (6th place)

2005 – Tokyo Marathon (5th place)

2005 – London Marathon  (10th place)

2004 – London Marathon (17th place)

2007 – Osaka World Championships (9th place)

2005 – Helsinki World Championships (18th place)