My excellent adventure, Day 17: Considering Paula Radcliffe, by Larry Eder

This is my daily journal on my trips to Copenhagen, Paris, London, Boston and some of the fun things that happen, or I consider during my journeys. 

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Paula Radcliffe setting WR, photo by
Traveling around the athletics circuit as I do, one appreciates the truly herculean heights that London marathon has reached in terms of its field development, its support of media and its support of the sport. 

The success of the race has been built over 33 years and the number of volunteers who give their time, energy and heart to make this race successful would overwhelm you. Glen Latimer, long time friend of Mr. Bedford, former US LDR chair, and long time agent, is seen, with the second most famous mustache in the marathon in London, limping a bit as he helps coordinate elite travel and events. Mr. Latimer is just an example of the people who have supported this event for decades, and with their support, the event continues to grow. 

I kept this in mind as I saw Paula Radcliffe, the WR holder in the marathon, World Champion in marathon, readying herself for the BBC broadcast. 

In 2003, after years of championing cross country, and track performances against the Kenyan and Ethiopian elite women, Paula Radcliffe did something Beamonesque: she destroyed her own world record for the marathon and clicked off a 2:15.25. To this day, the best performance ever by a women distance runner. 

Derek Clayton, the tall Australian who was the first to break 2:11, 2:10 and 2:09 for the marathon, told me that his 2:08:34 totally wrecked him physically. He knew, after some of the physical ailments he endured, that his 1968 performance just destroyed him. 

That is what happens, I always thought, when you have that perfect day, and you run way beyond your wildest dreams. 

Chris Thompson, the 2010 Euro silver medalist at the 10,000 meters, told me, that in his career, he only had one race like that in his life. When he ran his road 10k PB of 28:02, it was flawless and strangely painless. When I queried about his 10,000m silver he told me about hurting his knee just before the race, and not feeling decent until 800 meters to go, and running a final lap of 55, to get that silver. 

Paula Radcliffe paid a huge price physically after her 2:15:25. Her body broke down several times, in the most untimely of times and circumstances. Paula Radcliffe endured the trials of the biblical character Job. In the 2004 Olympics she was destroyed, dropping out of the marathon, and five days later, the 10,000 meters. In 2005, she won the World Championships. In 2008, she finished in 32nd place, after having to stop and stretch. 

In 2011, Paula ran 2:23:46 at the Berlin Marathon. Injuries kept her out of the 2012 London Olympics.

Now, Paula is running twice a day, with little pain and her stature in the sport, hard earned, has provided her a strong financial future and a developing career in sports broadcasting. 

Why is Paula Radcliffe so credible to her British audience (hell, to global audience? Because, Paula Radcliffe, with style, honesty and grace, has lived the " Miles of Trials and Trials of Miles" as writer John Parker (Once a Runner) spoke of that experience gained from races won, and hard fought races lost. 

For me, even if Paula Radcliffe never ran another race again, she would be the women who took the marathon to a new level. 

But tomorrow, I will listen and look forward to her comments on the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon broadcast. Paula Radcliffe has, what I call street cred. 

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