Mara Yamauchi shares her knowledge with Ordnance Survey Runners

Mara Yamauchi shares her knowledge with Ordnance Survey Runners

Ordnance Survey Runners is a registered Run England group that has grown recently to 100 runners.  Mara Yamauchi, the UK’s second fastest female marathon runner of all time, two-time Olympian and now a qualified Athletics Coach, gave a lunchtime presentation to members of the group and representatives from local clubs about preparation for the marathon.

Mara spoke with passion and humour about her running experiences and captivated the attention of the huge audience with her tips on training, nutrition and hydration, recovery, race-day preparation, strength and conditioning, and injury prevention.

Staff at the Ordnance Survey moved into their new building based in Southampton a few years ago. With access to improved facilities, including showers and changing rooms, people were encouraged to run at lunchtime, or even as part of their commute. 

With the improved location, they noticed a big increase in the number of people getting out running, so shifted their focus to encouraging people to join a running community. Routes were mapped out, a monthly handicap time trial organised, and a beginner’s course set up to encourage more people in the workforce get started.  The group has grown massively thanks to the hardwork and enthusiasm of Viv Alexander (Ladies' Rep/Coach), Mark Stileman (Chairman), Mark Aston (Secretary) and Matt Pillinger (Treasurer).  Some members are new to running whilst others compete for local clubs.

Four lunchtime sessions are on offer which range from a Mixed Ability Training Session on a grass track or a local circuit, which Viv leads, with everyone starting and finishing together.  There is a weekly club run over 3-4 miles for everyone.  A monthly social run is held over 4-5 miles and a monthly handicap is held over 3.6miles where runners start in reverse order based on previous times, and aim to all finish together!  Each spring and summer they hold beginner or returner sessions which successfully progresses everyone to be able to run 2 miles.

Needless to say there is a beautifully produced set of maps for all the routes on the company intranet and a run log for recording and comparing times…

Ordnance Survey is part of the Civil Service and teams take part in 3 annual events but most just enjoy the lunchtime break from their desks, an exhilarating run and the excellent workplace changing facilities. 

As a self-professed fan of Ordnance Survey maps, Mara was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Ordnance Survey and meet members of its thriving staff running group. Mara said “It was a real pleasure to share my experiences and knowledge about the marathon with the Ordnance Survey runners, and to hear their running stories. I was so impressed by the positive energy and enthusiasm in the group – they are clearly going places! It’s a great model of a successful workplace running group that benefits not only  the individual members but also the wider workplace.” Mara was thrilled to receive a map of her local training area in SW London, with a photo of herself racing on the front cover to commemorate her visit.

The visit arose from a meeting of Ordnance Survey Runners with Katharine Jones, Hampshire Running Activator at Sport Hampshire and IOW and Christine Benning, England Athletics to look at the support available.  Katharine has advised Viv on the content of sessions, following Viv’s attendance at a LiRF Course in September.  The visit was arranged by England Athletics and funded by Ordnance Survey.  Mark Aston from the Ordnance Survey is about to attend the LiRF course in November, with the intention of being able to assist Vivien in the future at these very popular running sessions.

Photos courtesy of Ordnance Survey and Christine Benning

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