Liz Yelling believes her Olympic marathon preparations are heading the right direction after finishing third in the Bupa Great Women’s Run in Sunderland.
Yelling, competing on home soil for the last time before contesting her second successive Games marathon on August 17, produced a solid display in the five-and-a-half mile road race.
The Commonwealth bronze medallist could not match the pace of Ethiopian Gete Wami who won the race two years ago and regained the title finishing 16 seconds ahead of Bahrain’s Nadia Ejjafini in a time of 29minutes 20seconds.
Yelling clocked a respectable 29mins 56secs over a course shortened from 10kilometres when high waves lapping Roker Pier saw the transition along half that stretch of the race aborted because of health and safety reasons.
Yelling led positively for the first half of the competition with Wami, the reigning World Marathon Majors (WMM) title holder, happy to sit on the pace along with Ejjafini and Spain’s Alessandra Aguillar.
Aguillar was the first to be dropped when Moroccan-born Ejjafini raised the tempo and although Yelling held on for slightly longer, she fell away with around two miles remaining.
Wami, who showed she is fully recovered from the fall which probably cost her victory at the Flora London Marathon two months go, waited until there was less than a mile remaining before using her finishing speed to achieve a conclusive win.
Yelling was more than happy with her display and how she has progressed since placing ninth at the London marathon where a personal best won her the UK trial race and selection for Beijing.
“It’s always nice to finish in the top three and there was some good opposition out there,” said the 33-year-old former training partner and Bedford clubmate of Paula Radcliffe.
“Today proved my fitness despite a heavy workload is coming along well and this performance was certainly another improvement on my recent appearances in Manchester and the London 10K, where I still had the marathon in my legs.
“Now I’m going off to to a warm weather camp in Florida next Thursday and while there I might run at the Peachtree 10km road race in Atlanta. But that’s not certain.”
Yelling who receives no funding from UK Athletics emphasised the importance she places upon her spell in the United States and thanked the Flora London Marathon for making it possible.
She said: “London is paying towards the cost of the trip and I’m very grateful for this financial help which David Bedford has offered to assist me in what is an important part of my final Olympic preparations. It is really appreciated.”
Bedford the race director added: “The Flora London Marathon is of course delighted to give Liz the grant she has applied for.
“We’ve done it for her and others before and this year we’re also helping out Dan Robinson who is in the men’s team.”
Meanwhile Wami plans no more races before the Olympic marathon, content she will be ready to add to her laurels of the last two years where she has been outstanding and fully deserved winning the inaugural WMM overall award last autumn.
Wami clinched the $500,000 purse after losing a thriller to Radcliffe in the New York marathon and, despite their personal rivalry, hopes the world record holder will be fit for Beijing.
“It will be a much better race if Paula is there, it always is, and I hope she will make it,” said Wami, who explained why she travelled to Sunderland for what in global terms is a low key competition.
“I missed three weeks training on medical advice when my back and legs were badly bruised when I fell. Thankfully there were no serious injuries.
“Even before that happened, I was considering running here again after winning two years ago and after what happened in London, I needed a race both for my confidence and to see what shape I’m in.
“I feel great and have no problems. Now I will prepare for the Olympics in Ethiopia,” Wami added.