Marathon world record-holder is looking forward to her first race of the year
It has been almost three years since Paula Radcliffe last contested a half marathon, but next weekend she will compete in Vienna over the 13.1-mile distance as part of her preparation for this summer’s Olympic Games.
Today she warmed up for the race with a gentle jog through London, taking in some of the sights that she’ll be running past at a much faster pace when it comes to the Olympic marathon on August 5.
The marathon world record-holder was appearing at the launch of the British 10k, an event now sponsored by Nike and which expects to see 25,000 people hit the streets of London on July 8.
“When it comes to making it count on race day, there could not be a more inspiring course than the streets and world-famous landmarks of central London,” said Radcliffe, 38.
“This race is an amazing chance for runners of all levels to challenge themselves to become better athletes. Nike is providing entrants with everything they need for their training journey.”
Radcliffe last raced in December at the low-key Cursa de Natale 10k race in Monaco, where she smashed the women’s course record with 32:06.
Since then she has enjoyed a training stint in Iten, Kenya, during one of her most uninterrupted winters in recent memory and is now looking forward to putting her body to the test in Vienna.
“I am very much looking forward to racing in Austria for the first time,” said Radcliffe, who will be joined there by former marathon world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie. “It will be a very important test for me. I want to run this half marathon fast and then build on that for the Olympic Games.”
In her last half-marathon, Radcliffe clocked 69:45 for victory in New York in 2009. The Vienna course record currently stands at 73:20, and she will likely be looking to smash that mark to send a message out to her rivals that she should not be discounted.
Already this year has been an incredible one for marathon running with three women breaking 2:20 in Dubai. Since the Olympic qualification period opened last year, 18 women have broken 2:23.
With countries being limited to three athletes per event at the Olympics, only nine of those women will be in London. The last time Radcliffe broke 2:23 was seven years ago, but she – unlike Gebrselassie – no longer needs to worry about qualifying for the Olympics as she has already been named on the GB team.
Gebrselassie, meanwhile, appears to be coming round to accepting that he may not be in London as his most recent marathon effort ranked him outside the top 20 Ethiopians during the qualifying period.
Nevertheless, Radcliffe is looking forward to seeing the Ethiopian legend in Vienna after he persuaded her to race there.
“I spoke to Haile at the Berlin Marathon last autumn,” she said. “He told to me how supportive the public was and how fast he found the course. He said: ‘You have to do it!’, and that made me want to come to Austria and run fast.”