Women's Wheelchair race report: Tsuchida wins second in a week
London debutante Wakako Tsuchida of Japan won her second major marathon title in a week this morning as she won the women's wheelchair race at the 2010 Virgin London Marathon.
While Tsuchida was a worthy winner, Britain's best racer Shelly Woods suffered the same fate as her compatriot David Weir when she suffered from a punctured tyre.
The line-up included the course record holder, Sandra Graf, and reigning champion Amanda McGrory. Blackpool-based Woods and Canadian Diane Roy were both in with a chance too after Australian Christie Dawes withdrew earlier this week.
Tsuchida, a newcomer to London, won her fourth Boston title in a row only last Monday, but was thought to be inexperienced on the tactical London course.
Woods was part of the leading pack from the start and looked comfortable. Roy, who finished third last year, dropped off the pack at 25km when she sufferd a puncture and had to pull out. That left four to compete for the title - Woods, McGrory, Graf and Tsuchida.
In wheelchair racing, it can often come to a sprint finish, and all racers are accustomed to sprint finishes in marathons.
By half way, it was obvious this one was not going to be any different, and Woods seemed in with a chance to take her second London win three years after her first. But disaster struck when she blew tyres in the last few miles, ending her hopes for victory in this year's race.
Coming into the finish straight, McGrory looked likely to retain her title, but Tsuchida's class finish was simply too good. She crossed the line in 1:52:33.
A surprised Tsuchida said: "I had images about this race before I started and knew experience mattered. It was always going to be tactical so I was expecting a sprint finish. The weather was bad at the beginning and even though I've just won Boston, I really wanted to win."
Second placed Sandra Graf clocked 1:52:34 but the respected racer said: "I got a slight puncture in my front tyre at about 30km. I'm not one to make excuses but it may have been a little different if we had dry conditions."
McGrory was sad not to retain her title, finishing in 1:52:36, but enjoyed another opportunity to race on the London course. "It was great to be involved in such a tight race," she said. "I was fine all the way but in the last 300yards my arms just seemed to give way."
Meanwhile, the disappointed Woods, who continued despite the punctures, came in sixth in 2:45:40. "There's nothing like racing at home and at the London Marathon," she said. "It's just a shame I couldn't show my sprint finish, but I will be back."