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Yamauchi arrives first for Sunday's Virgin London Marathon

21 April 2010

Britain's Mara Yamauchi was the first 2010 Virgin London Marathon elite athlete to arrive for Sunday's race when she touched down at Shoreham airport outside Brighton in Sussex this afternoon at the end of a marathon six-day journey from her training base in New Mexico.

Yamauchi, the 2009 London Marathon runner-up, had moved from her home in Tokyo to train at altitude in Alberquerque. She and her husband, Shigetoshi, left there last Thursday and travelled to Denver, Colorado, only to find there were no flights to London because of the cloud of volcanic ash which forced the closure of airspace around northern Europe for almost six days.

They then travelled to New Jersey and tried to get a flight to Shannon airport in Ireland before eventually flying from New Jersey to Lisbon, Portugal, from where they rented a taxi which drove for six hours to Madrid.

When they discovered there were no seats available on ferries from Spain to Portsmouth, the Yamauchis rented a car and drove for two days to Paris before taking a taxi to Le Touquet near the French coast where the London Marathon organisers hired a private Piston propeller plane to fly them to Shoreham.

Yamauchi arrived at the Virgin London Marathon headquarters in London late on Wednesday afternoon saying she was "tired but relieved".

"It's been an interesting journey to say the least and hardly the best way to prepare for the race," she said. "I am tired but most of all just happy to be here. Now at least I have time to relax and begin to focus my mind on the race. I am confident I will be fully recovered and ready to run by Sunday morning."

To see more images of Mara’s arrival, go to the Photo gallery.