Still possessing record, Radcliffe ready for final marathon
LONDON (AP) In front of Buckingham Palace, Paula Radcliffe will cross the finish line and bid farewell on Sunday.
After dragging her injury-ravaged feet through the streets of the British capital, the 41-year-old Radcliffe will be done with marathons. With no more training camps or grueling running schedules, Radcliffe will devote more time to combatting doping in sport and looking after her two children.
Daughter Isla, though, was slightly confused when her mother said she wouldn't be running competitively again.
''Mummy you haven't really been competitive for a few years,'' Radcliffe recalled 8-year-old Isla saying.
Long-standing problems with her left foot forced Radcliffe to withdraw from the 2012 London Olympics, denying her a final shot at winning a medal on sport's biggest stage. But the medal haul from marathons and 5,000 and 10,000-meter races is vast. And the world marathon record set by Radcliffe in London in 2003 remains intact.
''Records are there to be broken,'' Radcliffe said. ''I don't want it to be.''
It won't about records or even winning for Radcliffe on Sunday, just saying farewell as she runs among the masses rather than the elite field.
''I want to finish with a smile on my face,'' she said. ''I will definitely be savoring the atmosphere, needing the encouragement. I'm sure it will be special.''
Chasing the record of two hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds will be defending champion Edna Kiplagat, half-marathon world-record holder Florence Kiplagat and Mary Keitany, who has got closest to Radcliffe's time.
''She has been an inspiration,'' Kiplagat said Wednesday, before asking: ''Why is she not pacing us? She's the world record holder.''
Radcliffe doesn't want to jeopardize her chance of being able to run for pleasure after Sunday.
''I will always run,'' she said. ''I just won't be preparing to be competitive in races and really putting everything into going to training camps and things like that ... if my body could hold it together I would go on for a lot longer.''
Radcliffe doesn't think she was necessarily more talented than her rivals, attributing her success instead to stubbornness and the ability to withstand grueling training routines.
''Considering where I was in 2012 and 2013 after the foot operation ... I am pleased and surprised I have been able to get to this point,'' she said.
The future will be about spending time with her family and trying to ensure drug cheats are banished from athletics. The IAAF presidency isn't on the agenda - ''politics is not something that interests me'' - but expect to hear a lot more of Radcliffe.
Of particular concern are accusations of widespread doping, cover-ups and corruption in Russia that were broadcast recently in Germany.
''You see things that are worrying and make you question are we doing enough in our sport,'' Radcliffe said. ''Are we doing enough to tackle the issues? We need to do more.
''That's maybe an area I will move into now I've got more energy to invest into ... athletes have a right to compete on a level playing field and not have their performances questioned.''
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris