photo by Victah Sailer/BMW Marathon
Until a few days ago, Paula Radcliffe’s supreme effort of 2:15.25, was the world record. Now, it is the world best. IAAF Congress has opened a hornets nest on this one, and may create a fissure between road running and the governing body.
Paula Radcliffe, all of 37, still has the world record and world best, and on Sunday, she will see what kind of shape she is in as she prepares for 2012 London. A World Champion in the marathon and in cross country, Radcliffe has lead women’s marathon for most of the past decade. She has also shown the high price paid by elite marathoners who challenge the limits, as Radcliffe has.
BMW Berlin will be a race between Paula Radcliffe and Irina Mikitenko, who is also coming off a long respit. In the following article by our globerunner, Pat Butcher, you will see how Mr. Butcher views the battle this weekend!
Paula Radcliffe, 2003 Flora London, WR (then), 2:15.25, photo by PhotoRun.net
LONG MOMENT OF TRUTH?
should be a match made in heaven, the women’s marathon world record holder
finally running on the universally recognized 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
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
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
(Please note: IAAF Women’s WR change was voted at IAAF Congress in August 2011. It has been challenged in the last two days by the marathon Majors Group and AIMS).
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
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.
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”.
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.
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.
really looking forward to running on Sunday. Having Paula in the marathon will
give the whole event a different atmosphere”.
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 Yulamanova.
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?”
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.
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.
**The BMW BERLIN MARATHON will be broadcasted live in more than
150 countries. In Germany n-tv will start its 4 hour live coverage at 8.30
am. International coverage is provided by Eurosport, BBC 2, Supersport, Al
Jazeera, Sport 5 (Israel), Fuji TV (Japan), CBC (Canada), Sky Mexico,
Globosat (Brasil) and by Universal Sports via cable as well as Webstream
in the US.
***Please note: WWM and AIMS have challenged the IAAF decision on women’s records in mixed races in the past several days.