Paula Radcliffe on her way to victory at the Great South Run in 2008 (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Portsmouth, UK

Fast 10-Miler by Radcliffe in Portsmouth

Paula Radcliffe sent out a clear warning she is in mint condition to defend her New York Marathon crown after a world-class performance in the BUPA Great South Run.

Radcliffe, in her first outing since the Olympic Games Marathon, raced around a very wet and windy 10-mile Portsmouth course in the same authoritative style which has made her a marathon legend.

The 34-year-old Bedford star, running solo after just over a mile, coped superbly in what was a race against the clock to win with a UK-best performance of 51 minutes 11 seconds.

That struck a healthy half a minute from the previous mark achieved 17 years ago by Jill Boltz in New York.

Radcliffe savoured the success by easily thwarting the ambitions of Jessica Augusto and Magdalene Mukunzi, the Portuguese and Kenyan runners finishing in 53:15 and 53:18 respectively.

Until she hit the six-mile marker Radcliffe was still well on target to smash Lornah Kiplagat's world best of 50:49.6 but decided because of the gusty wind to keep something in reserve.

Radcliffe said: "I felt in the last two miles it was going to be really windy, so saved a little bit for that. Actually it wasn't too bad down the sea front as I was psyched up for it to be."

After testing her physical fitness almost fully, she also celebrated not feeling any reaction to either the stress fracture in her her left hip or calf injuries, the latter which hindered her dreams of winning the Olympic Marathon in China.

It also fully justified her decision to take to the roads just 10 weeks after finishing a deeply disappointing 23rd in Beijing and helped shape her up for next Sunday's massive confrontation in New York.

Radcliffe, who some critics believe should have had a longer rest, said: "The only thing to recover from in Beijing was that I wasn't in shape."

"I hadn't done enough running. I think I've done a bit more now and I felt more confident standing on the start line because you know you've done the preparations. At the Olympic Games I wasn't prepared and just had to get on with it. I just wanted to use today to have to have a good blow out."

"I didn't want to really totally hammer it, because I've a more important race next week but at the same time it was good to come down here. I felt good running it and didn't feel I left anything out there. When I finished my legs felt okay and I just didn't want to give everything today."

Radcliffe insisted she did not feel any pressure about her early return and genuinely thinks that after a couple of years where she has had major setbacks she is now back in excellent condition.

She said: "There is pressure, just a little bit from myself having put in the hard work and training. To be honest that felt more normal - in Beijing it wasn't."

"Generally I wouldn't put myself on the line unless I felt I was okay. There are always little niggles in any marathon build-up - any marathon runner will tell you that. It's when you know you haven't done the preparation. That's really hard. But when you know you've got the weeks of training and basically done the best job to get there, it's kind of fun to go out racing."

The men's race saw an equally dominant display from Kenya's Bernard Kipyego who made his breakaway after four miles and went on to win in a respectable time of 46:43.

Irishman Martin Fagan produced a storming finish to snatch second spot just three seconds ahead of the winner's fellow countryman and defending champion Luke Kibet in a time of 46:58.

David Martin (Press Association) for the IAAF