General News Vilamoura

Radcliffe wipes out the opposition in Vilamoura

Radcliffe wins (IAAF)Radcliffe wins (IAAF) © Copyright

Paula Radcliffe may not have delivered the World Half Marathon best performance everyone was forecasting when the 12th Championships took place in Vilamoura, Portugal today, however, clinching a third IAAF World Half Marathon title in four years, Radcliffe's winning margin of one minute and 27 seconds was the greatest ever achieved in the 12 year history of the Championships.

A combination of very hot sunshine and and a twisting course at the Portugese venue, saw Radcliffe drastically slow around the halfway point, although still running the world class time of 67 minutes 35 seconds.
 
For the second time in less than a fortnight, Radcliffe quickly destroyed the hopes of Ethiopia's defending champion Berhane Adere, runner-up in 69:02 and the unexpected bronze medallist from Australia Benita Johnson, who ran 69:26.

Unsurprisingly the previous greatest winning margin was when the World Marathon record holder on home territory, sped to a 49 seconds success when claiming her second crown two years ago in Bristol.

Having less than a fortnight earlier ran 65:40 in the slightly downhill BUPA Great North Run course on Tyneside,it was genuinely believed Radcliffe would shatter Elana Meyer's four-year-old legal world best of 66:44.

Beforehand that was a consideration, and with the the year drawing to an end, Radcliffe would have liked to be named as the inaugural world record holder when the IAAF recognise the event for that status next January.

From the beginning, the world best seemed to be on the cards. Radcliffe after less than two minutes was forging ahead and until an unexpected burn-out before the 15k marker, it seemed Meyer's mark set in Tokyo, was destined for the dust bin.
 
But the scorching  Algarve weather with temperature rising rapidly from 22 degress after the start, seriously blunted any ambitions Radcliffe may have had in that direction.

Radcliffe cheered by around a thousand British tourists  said: "It was a very tough race and I was surprised everyone dropped back so quickly.

"The support was fantastic but I knew at 10K with the conditions being what they were, the record was not going to happen."

Radcliffe still  produced another blistering performance which before five kilometres hushed the gold medal ambitions of everyone of her global rivals.
 
Her sixth road race victory of the year, saw arch-rivals led by Adere and Susan Chepkemei - the Kenyan eventually blew up and finished eighth - chasing her shadow by nine seconds after the first five kilometres.

Radcliffe is human but even with a 36 seconds lead and on record schedule after 10K, knew world record ambitions would have to wait for another occasion. She said: "realised at that point I had won the race."

Despite her positive approach, the effort was seriously hurting. Radcliffe admitted: People are thinking of the expectations of a world record every time I run.

"Even I am, and thought of that before the race. But there were too many twists and turns that slowed you down.

"It was not a course to run a record. But I showed I could still run in the heat even if not as fast as I have done in the past. 

"I decided there was no point in killing myself but  I picked it up in the last 5K again."

With the team medals being decided on the aggregate time score of the the first three finishers, Radcliffe also knew her own contribution could directly influence their finishing total.

Radcliffe said: "I was running into direct sunlight, but I kept running fast because I knew the team event was still very important."

Despite her efforts the side only managed fifth position as Russia claimed a surprise victory ahead of Japan and Romania. Surprisingly, none of the normally superior African nations made the medallist's podium.

The future racing programme for Radcliffe still remains uncertain. But she admitted running a marathon before Christmas is doubtful.

"It's not looking likely I will do Athens or the New York Marathon," said Radcliffe, suggesting a leg of the Ekiden Relay in Japan next month is the preferred choice.