Women’s world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe is expected to be among the favorites in the World Championships race Aug. 23 in Berlin, but ONE WEEK before, she’s running the New York City Half-Marathon to test her fitness Sunday. Here’s a New York Times story from Wednesday:
By LIZ ROBBINS
Paula Radcliffe, the women’s marathon world-record holder from Britain, has made New York her preferred comeback destination in her career, usually jolting her competitors and bolstering the field at the last minute to enter a marquee race to test her preparation.
She has not lost in New York this decade, and Sunday she will try to keep that record intact.
Nine months after Radcliffe ran and won her last race — the 2008 New York City Marathon — and one week before she is scheduled to run the marathon at the World Championships in Berlin, Radcliffe will compete in the New York City Half-Marathon on Sunday. The New York Road Runners announced yet another surprise Radcliffe return Wednesday, this one coming after her recovery from bunion surgery on her right foot in March. It forced her to withdraw from the London Marathon.
“After the race in New York, I will consult with my coaching and medical teams and we will make the final determination as to whether I am ready to run the marathon in Berlin,” Radcliffe said in a statement released by the New York Road Runners. “It is certainly my hope to compete there.”
Radcliffe’s gritty career has never followed a conventional arc. No woman has come closer than three minutes to her 2003 marathon record of 2 hours 15 minutes 25 seconds, which she set in London. She trained throughout her pregnancy. She has followed her high-profile Olympic failures with success in New York.
She won the New York City Marathon in 2004, returning after she pulled out with an injury during the Athens Olympics. She won New York in 2007, less than 10 months after giving birth to her first child, Isla. And she repeated last year in the wake of another disappointing and injury-riddled Olympics.
“I think she performs especially well in New York because she’s the type of athlete where the bigger the stakes, the bigger the stage, the more she rises to the challenge,” Mary Wittenberg, the chief executive of the New York Road Runners, said in an interview.
Radcliffe, 35, will compete Sunday against her longtime rivals in the sport: Deena Kastor, 36, the American-record holder in the marathon; and Catherine Ndereba, 37, the 2006 and 2008 New York City half-marathon champion, who has won 17 half-marathons.
Radcliffe has statistics to go along with psychology in her favor. She has recorded the fastest half-marathon time of any woman — a 1:05:40 at the 2003 Great North Run in Newcastle, England, which is not a world-record-sanctioned course.
She has also won every race she has entered in New York but her first — in 1995 in the Fifth Avenue Mile. She has since rattled off six victories, including two in the Fifth Avenue Mile, and one in the New York Mini 10K.
A world champion at the half-marathon distance in 2000 and 2001, Radcliffe has not run a half-marathon for nearly two years. In England’s Great North Run in 2007, she finished second to Kara Goucher of Portland, Ore. That was just one of the motivating factors, Radcliffe has said, in her 2007 New York victory.