I'm a runner...about six miles a day, five or six days a week..and often in that last mile, I wonder, how in the world could I do this for twenty more miles? I couldn't...but many do..thousands upon thousands run marathons every year and I find it simply amazing. More amazing is that in those thousands of runners, there are the elite, those that do it better than the rest. Of the elite, are the elitest, one of whom is:

Paula Radcliffe

Who on this very day, April 13, 2003, broke her own record as well as the world record by winning the women's portion of the London Marathon in 2 hours, 15 minutes, and 25 seconds; beating her time in last years marathon by 1 minute, 53 seconds. This is an astonishing feat! Today's record breaking run was only 8 minutes behind the men's winner, Ethiopia's Gezahegne Abera, who finished in a time of 2:07:56

Paula Radcliffe loves to be alone... at least way out in front. When training 1800 meters above sea level in the French Pyrenees, it's the sight of the sea that inspires her, but when running in competition, it's the sounds of peace and quiet she finds at the front of the pack. And it's not often that you'll find her anywhere else. Radcliffe used to travel to London to watch her father run the London Marathon. She would dream of running the streets of London her self someday. In 2002, that dream came true.

It's always been something I wanted to do, But i felt that I had to wait until I was ready mentally to run the race. I had to wait for my body to be strong enough.
With her additional training in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Radcliffe wanted to train so hard, that when the race finally came,"it would seem like the easiest part." So in April of 2002, Paula Radcliffe recorded the fastest (female) debut ever in the marathon with a 2:18:56, just nine seconds behind the world record. Then came the LaSalle Banks Chicago Marathon in which she broke the world record with a time of 2:17:18. She was awarded $250,000 and a new Volkswagen for this effort. Not bad, huh?

Paula's father was a brewery executive and her Mom, a headmistress. Paula came along in December of 1973, in the town of Northwich, Cheshire, but, when Paula was 11, the family moved to Bedford and it was there that Radcliffe began to run, in the fields of Bedford. Inspired and encouraged by her father, who ran marathons himself, Paula's passion for running was evidenced by the cross-country races she continued to win. In the last decade, her achievements in running are staggering, not to mention her time at Loughborough University studying European History. Radcliffe has set UK records at 3000, 5000 and 10,000 metres and the marathon. She's unbeaten in nine years of distances over 3000 metres. It's really quite an achievement, especially when you consider that when she was 14, she finished 299th in the English schools cross-country championships. How's that for improvement?

Well, today's race was just another step in the long road to glory. I was amazed that in the 24th or 25th mile Ms. Radcliffe was running a five minute mile! That's incredible. That's what I thought, here's her take:

I tried to stay relaxed and when I reached halfway faster than I thought I would, I was committed so I went for it. I definitely suffered and the last five miles were really tough on and off- especially the last two. It was just a matter of keeping my head strong.

What makes me think I'll be seeing that bobbing, pony-tailed, head again, as it crosses the finish line in another record setting pace in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece?

Update: 01/08/05

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men (and women) sometimes go awry, and Paula's definitely did. Just three miles from the finish of the 2004 Olympic Marathon in Greece, Radcliffe, who was clearly in distress from the heat and humidity, pulled out of the race and ended up with her head in her hands sitting on a curb. The eventual winner was Japan's Mizuli Noguchi in a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes and 20 seconds, nowhere near the record setting time of Radcliffe's in London the previous year. Baffled by her failure to finish, Radcliffe refused to blame it on the weather, rather offering:

At the start I didn't feel too bad. I didn't feel the conditions were bothering me and the same at the beginning of the hills. But then just after 15-20km, I felt there was nothing in my legs. At the end I was struggling to stay on the road. I've never been able to not finish and I'm desperately trying to find a reason for what happened. I just feel numb - this is something I worked so hard for.

Well, whatever it was, it didn't last for long. Seventy-seven days later, on November 7, 2004, Ms. Radcliffe ran the steets of New York City and redeemed herself, as if that were necessary, with a win at the NYC Marathon in a time of 2 hours, 23 minutes and 10 seconds. Criticised before the race for being "selfish" and putting her career and mental stability at stake, Radcliffe silenced all with this spectacular win. Only Paula was aware of the 4 1/2 weeks of rigorous training in Flagstaff, Arizona, that she had endured to prepare herself both mentally and physically for what naturally was just another challenge in the life of a woman who lives for just that.

For three weeks after Athens I had up and down feelings, but going to Flagstaff put that behind me. Now I'm back doing what I enjoy. I have to move forward and believe what is right for me. I went through the whole process of wondering if I would be criticised but running this race has always been an aim.

So with the Big Apple as the backdrop, Paula Radcliffe showed the world and especially the Brits that her will and ability to win were as true as ever before. And the future is as bright as ever with the Helsinki world championships in August of 2005, the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 and the Beijing Olympics in 2008 looming ahead. Will Radcliffe be there? Certainly; as Radcliffe puts it: It's her job, it's what she does.

Career Highlights:

  • 2004 06 Nov 2:23.10 NYC Marathon (Marathon 1st)
  • 2003 13 Apr 2:15:25 London Marathon (Marathon 1st)
  • 2002 13 Oct 2:17:18 LaSalle Chicago (Marathon 1st)
  • 2002 06 Aug 8:56.84 Euro Champ München (3000m 1st)
  • 2002 06 Aug 14:57.65 Euro Champ München (5000m 1st)
  • 2002 06 Aug 30:01.09 Euro Champ München (10000m 1st)
  • 2002 28 Jul 14:31.42 CommonWealth Manchester (5000m 1st)
  • 2002 19 Jul 8:22.20 Herc Monaco (3000m 2nd)
  • 2002 14 Apr 2:18:56 Flora London (Marathon 1st)
  • 2001 07 Oct 66:47 World Champ Bristol (Half Marathon 1st)
  • 2001 31 Aug 14:32.44 ISTAF Berlin (5000m 3rd)
  • 2001 01 Jul 4:05.37 Glasgow (1500m 3rd)
  • 2001 29 Jun 8:26.97 GGala Roma (3000m 5th)
  • 2001 07 Apr 30:55.80 Euro Chall Barakaldo (10000m 7th)
  • 2000 22 Oct 67:07 South Shields (Half Marathon 1st)
  • 2000 30 Sep 30:26.97 Olympic Sydney (10000m 4th)
  • 2000 11 Aug 8:28.85 WK Zürich (3000m 4th)
  • 2000 05 Aug 14:44.36 Norw Uni London (5000m 2nd)
  • 2000 25 Jul 4:11.45 Barcelona (1500m 11th)
  • 1999 10 Oct 69:37 South Shields (Half Marathon 3rd)
  • 1999 04 Sep 4:06.71 GBRvUSA Glasgow (1500m 3rd)
  • 1999 26 Aug 30:27.13 World Champ Sevilla (10000m 2nd)
  • 1999 11 Aug 8:27.40 WK Zürich (3000m 3rd)
  • 1999 07 Aug 14:43.54 GP London (5000m 1st)
  • 1998 05 Aug 14:51.27 DNG Stockholm (5000m 2nd)
  • 1998 02 Aug 8:38.84 Secur Sheffield (3000m 1st)
  • 1998 01 Jun 4:05.81 APM Hengelo (1500m 3rd)
  • 1998 04 Apr 30:48.58 Euro Chall Lisboa (10000m 2nd)
  • 1997 22 Aug 14:45.51 VD Bruxelles (5000m 2nd)
  • 1997 13 Aug 8:35.28 WK Zürich (3000m 2nd)
  • 1997 13 Jun 4:06.93 Live Nürnberg (1500m 3rd)
  • 1996 16 Aug 14:46.76 Weltk Köln (5000m 5th)
  • 1996 14 Aug 4:08.42 Weltk Zürich (1500m 7th)
  • 1996 10 Aug 8:37.07 Herc Monaco (3000m 3rd)
  • 1992 20 Sep 8:51.78 World Junior Seoul (3000m 4th)

Personal Best

  • 1500m (4:05.37)
  • 2000m (5:39.48)
  • 3000m (8:22.20)
  • 5000m (14:31.42)
  • 10000m (30:01.09)
  • One Mile (4:24.94)
  • Two Mile (9:30.5)
  • Five Mile (24:54.00)
  • Half Marathon (66:47)
  • Marathon (2:15:25) World Record


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