Paula Radcliffe produced arguably her greatest run yet with a double world best and a crushing win over a newly crowned world champion.
The 25 year-old Briton was one of 14 starters for the Compaq Invitation 5 miles around the grounds of the Balmoral Estate. In the corresponding race last year, Radcliffe set world bests at 8 kilometres and 5 miles of 24:45 and 24:54 respectively.
Today, like then, she went to the front immediately, flanked by World Short Course Cross Country Champion Jackline Maranga (KEN) and Finland’s Annemari Sandell - bronze medallist in the same race.
The trio began to pull clear before the first half mile. The field encountered a steady climb approaching the first mile of the two-lap course, and it was here where Radcliffe cut loose. She passed the mile marker in 4:59 and within 800m had left Maranga and the others far behind.
After the second mile she was 100m ahead and going further clear. Her second split showed why. She clocked just 4:49 for mile two, which included a downhill stretch approaching Balmoral Castle. Her 2-mile time of 9:48 was around five seconds up on her 1998 schedule.
Radcliffe kept up the tempo with 4:55 for the third mile, by which point Maranga was out of sight. However, the Bedford athlete’s parents Pat and Mike kept Radcliffe informed of her lead from the sidelines, "because it is my policy never to look back," she explained afterwards.
However, it seemed obvious than Radcliffe could win, but how fast could she run? She tore up the hilly section for the second time, clearly working extremely hard. Radcliffe slowed to 5:08 for the fourth mile (19:51), so needed to speed up in order to break her record.
This seemed unlikely looking at Radcliffe’s trademark head rolling, but her strong-running legs told a different story. As the finishing clock came into her sight, it was clear that she was going to break both of her records easily.
Radcliffe passed 8K in a brilliant 24:38 and the 5 mile finish - 46.72 metres later - in 24:47. This represented a seven-second improvement on each record, tey no other woman has broken 25:00 for the full distance. Maranga placed an isolated second with Sandell third.
"I had to get away from them because I knew Jackline Maranga had a really fast finish and I didn’t want to wait for that," said Radcliffe.
"In the last mile I just dug deep and ran as hard as I could." Of her plans of 1999 Radcliffe said "I’m still going into the summer cautiously. I don’t know what I am going to do [at the World Championships] but it looks as if it will be the 10,000m ... I’m going to take the next 10 days off completely."
Earlier in the day Paul Tergat (KEN) waited until the last 400m before hitting the front and holding off Khalid Skah (MAR) to win the men’s 5 miler. Both men were scheduled to travel to France for another race the following day.
A delighted fifth was Britain’s former Commonwealth 5000m Champion Rob Denmark, running his best international race for years following an injury lay-off. Rui Silva (POR) was an easy winner of the men’s 4 kilometres.
Mark Butler for the IAAF
Results:Men’s 4 Kilometres 1, Rui Silva POR 10:55 2, John Mayock GBR 11:01 3, Manuel Pancorbo ESP 11:03 4, Anthony Whiteman GBR 11:04 5, Mike Openshaw GBR 11:05 6, Alberto Garcia ESP 11:05 7, Niall Bruton IRL 11:07 8, Sam Haughian GBR 11:19 9, Spencer Barden GBR 11:24 10, Rob Scanlon GBR 11:33 11, Shane Healy IRL 11:47 12, Ben Whitby GBR 11:55 13, Jonathan Stewart GBR (Junior) 11:58
1, Paul Tergat KEN 22:27 (22:22 at 8K - only time taken)
2, Khalid Skah MAR 22:28
3, Thomas Nyariki KEN 22:32
4, Julius Kimutai KEN 22:45
5, Rob Denmark GBR 22:53
6, Keith Cullen GBR 23:07
7, Glenn Stewart GBR 23:17
8, Justin Pugsley GBR 23:26
9, Barry Royden GBR 23:42
10, Glynn Tromans GBR 23:48
11, Seamus Power IRL 23:52
12, David Tune GBR 23:58
13, Neil Caddy GBR 24:16
14, Stéphane Franke GER 24:24 (stomach pains)
Women’s 5 Miles
1, Paula Radcliffe GBR 24:47 (24:38 at 8K)
2, Jackline Maranga KEN 25:51 (25:43)
3, Annemari Sandell FIN 26:16 (26:07)
4, Hayley Haining GBR 26:42 (26:33)
5, Fiona Lothian GBR 26:48 (26:38)
6, Sarah Young GBR 26:49 (26:39)
7, Angela Newport GBR 26:50 (26:40)
8, Tara Krzywicki GBR 26:50 (26:41)
9, Amy Waterlow GBR 26:52 (26:42)
10, Katie Skorupska GBR 27:16 (27:05)
11, Sarah Bentley GBR 27:41 (27:30)
12, Jana Franke GER 28:03 (27:52)
13, Lisa Moody GBR 29:19 (29:07)
Wendy Farrow GBR DNF