FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Radcliffe's Long Moment Of Truth?
It should be a match made in heaven, the women's marathon world record
holder finally running on the universally recognised fastest marathon
course in the world. But it's been two years since Paula Radcliffe ran a
42.195k race, finishing fourth in New York 2009, and, on her own admission
today, "I was hurting".
Her only race since then was, again in her own words, "a bit of a
disaster". That was a 10k in London in May, when she finished a poor third,
in 33.17, the sort of time that she did for each 10k section of her world
record 2.15.25 in London 2003.
The fact that the IAAF is proposing (just two days ago) that that record
now be considered a 'world best,' since it was paced by men, has not
pleased her, although she still holds the 'world record' 2.17.52 from
London 2005.* But with two Olympic disasters behind the most accomplished
women's distance runner in history, and a need to run close to 2.20 here in
Berlin, both to qualify her for London 2012, and to give her the
springboard to a potential Olympic victory, it is not untoward to suggest
that Sunday's 38th BMW Berlin Marathon is going to be a (long) moment of
truth for the 37 year old Briton.
Radliffe cited injury and a then undiagnosed thyroid condition, following
the birth of her second child Raphael a year ago, as reasons for her poor
10k in May, and has privately admitted to training to do 2.20 here. And on
the evidence of previous events here – six world records in a dozen years –
the course is the kindest that any marathoner is likely to encounter; the
best example being Tegla Loroupe's run in 1999 when, having reached 30k
two minutes down on a really fast time, she astonished herself by taking
seven seconds off her own world record.
At today, Thursday's press conference, Radcliffe and Berlin race director
Mark Milde reciprocated that they were both top of each other's wish list.
And given that Radcliffe spent some of her university year abroad in
Germany, and is more than adequate in the language, she has already
endeared herself to the population by fielding press and TV questions in
the local lingo.
Victory on Sunday would only make things better on all fronts. "I've
watched the race on television," she said, "and I've run a little bit in
Berlin in the past, so I'm really looking forward to the experience".
With no mention of pacemakers, Radcliffe's principal opponent here on
Sunday morning is likely to be Kazakh born German Irina Mikitenko, who won
both London and Berlin in 2008, and won again in London the following year.
An injury forced her out of London last year and, also struggling with
injuries, she could only finish seventh this year.
But, like Radcliffe, she says that recent training has gone well, and at a
year older, admits that the Briton had been an inspiration for her. "Seeing
how Paula developed from the track to the marathon encouraged me to do the
same, because we had raced on the track as youngsters.
"I'm really looking forward to running on Sunday. Having Paula in the
marathon will give the whole event a different atmosphere".
The other contenders are all Russian – Lidiya Grigorieva, a winner in
Boston and Los Angeles in the last five years, Tatyana Petrova, who also
won Los Angeles, two years ago, and reigning European champion, Nailya
On the 'world record-world best' debate, which is bound to run far longer
than any marathon, Mikitenko came out a clear winner, when she said, "When
I heard this, I thought it was a joke. How can you achieve something, then
it is taken away from you years later?"
Radcliffe said that when she was accompanied by men in London 2003, she
made a point of running beside them, and even competing with them, rather
than following. "I honestly don't think that running with men makes any
difference. I would still have done in the 2.15s.
"It doesn't matter much to me. You come for a race, and you don't know how
it's going to go, but you just get on with it". And as a preview of
Sunday's race, Radcliffe could not have been more positive.
*IAAF Women's WR Change Was Voted At Congress In August.
It Has Been Challenged In The Last Two Days By The Marathon Majors Group and AIMS