FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Paula Radcliffe Gets a 7:52 Minutes Head Start
in OMV Champions Race against Haile Gebrselassie
Paula Radcliffe will get an advantage of exactly 7:52 minutes, when racing
against Haile Gebrselassie in Vienna's OMV Champions Race on Sunday. The
two legends will compete at the half marathon distance in a unique chase
race. It is one of a number of running events included into the Vienna City
Marathon. A total of 36,000 athletes have entered the various races of
Austria's biggest sporting event.
The 29th Vienna City Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race. The event
will be shown live on the internet on Sunday from 8.40 am at:
"I have to thank the organisers for putting on this race – it will be
unique, but in the end it is a competition! I am a bit worried though,
because I have no information about Paula's shape," said Haile
Gebrselassie, who established Vienna's half marathon course record a year
ago with 60:18 minutes. The great Ethiopian, who won two Olympic gold
medals in the 10,000 m and set two world marathon records plus another 18
official and 7 unofficial world records, is looking forward to running in
Vienna again: "This is a great course with a great atmosphere."
Asked about Paula Radcliffe the Ethiopian, who will turn 39 next Wednesday,
said: "What can I say about Paula? We need athletes like her to keep
athletics big. Paula is a symbol for our sport. She is very exceptional –
people say her world marathon record will be very difficult to beat."
Reflecting past championships, where Gebrselassie and Radcliffe had met, he
said: "There is a difference between Paula and me this year – she will run
the Olympics, I will only be there to watch her!"
On Sunday Haile Gebrselassie will watch Paula Radcliffe running away from
him at the start. The exact time difference had not been set before the
press conference. Instead organisers turned to the athletes on stage to
determine it. "I had a difficult past two weeks because of a bronchitis.
There were times when I thought I would not be able to come to Vienna. It
got better this week and I could train for the first time on Tuesday again.
Because of this I am not sure what I can run on Sunday," explained the
world marathon record holder from Great Britain (2:15:25). "This is
something new and I am looking forward to it. May be the time difference
should be the difference between our personal records," suggested the 38
year-old. Paula Radcliffe has run 65:40 minutes, but this was on the
slightly downhill course from Newcastle to South Shields. So the time she
was refering to in this case was 66:47. Haile Gebrselassie features a PB of
58:55 minutes, which was a world record in 2006. The difference is 7:52
minutes. "Wow, that will be tough. But what can I do – okay, I will start
7:52 minutes behind Paula," reacted Haile Gebrselassie, who then turned to
the audience saying: "Please wish me good luck!" Both athletes will have
two runners going together with them into the race.
Paula Radcliffe will start her race at exactly 8:50:38 am on Sunday. Haile
Gebrselassie then starts chasing at 8:58:30. Shortly afterwards the
marathon race will be started and the mass race will follow at 9 am. "I
hope to be able to produce a good solid run and I would be happy with a
time of sub 70 minutes. I hope it does not come to a sprint in the final
100 metres – in this case I know on who my money would be," said Paula
Radcliffe, prompting a quick reaction from Haile Gebrselassie regarding the
70 minutes: "No, Paula, you have to run faster!"
At the end of the press conference Haile and Paula received a certificate
since they had agreed to sign for the ,Clean Running Campaign' initiated by
the Vienna City Marathon some years ago. Elite and fun runners can sign up
on the website and by doing so stress their will to compete in a fair way
and support a drug-free sport. "This is a great idea. Clean Running
celebrates everything that is good in running," said Paula Radcliffe.