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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 20:54 GMT
Steve Cram column
Steve Cram
By Steve Cram

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong at a promotional event ahead of the New York Marathon
Armstrong has been the centre of attention in the New York build-up
I have been considering pulling out of Sunday's New York Marathon for two reasons - injury and Lance Armstrong.

An injury to my inner thigh means that I've been struggling to run properly.

When I was at my peak, I used to have a twisted hip and this injury is a by-product of that.

And at my age, if one thing goes wrong then other things tend to follow too.

I've been having treatment again just like an elite athlete. I've not done that sort of thing for a decade so it has been a bit odd.

But if I have to hobble round, I have to hobble round.

Apparently, Lance Armstrong reckons he can get round in two-and-a-half hours

Over here you would think no-one else other than Armstrong was running in New York.

So now I am committed to racing I just have to make sure I beat him. It's quite something going into a race knowing I have to beat a cyclist!

He is treated like a god in the States and people seriously think he could win it - they haven't got a clue.

Apparently, the seven-time Tour de France winner has been training and he reckons he can get round in around two-and-a-half hours.

If I do end up hobbling round, I've got to keep an eye out for him coming past me in the last few miles.

I will have some more competition in New York from Paula Radcliffe's husband Gary Lough.

Paula Radcliffe and her husband Gary Lough
Radcliffe's husband Gary Lough has been training hard for New York
Between us, Paula and I have persuaded him to have a go. He always keeps out of the way when it comes to running so Paula can get along but he has been back running again this year.

He used to be a middle-distance man like me and I said we would jog around together.

But it turns out he has been training really hard and Paula says he has been doing lots of speed sessions.

Paula is coming over to New York to receive the Abebe Bikila award for her outstanding contribution to distance running.

She is also looking forward to shouting at Gary in the last mile and giving him the sort of encouragement he always gives her!

I have been doing my last training in Denver and staying with friends I used to stay with when I was training here back in my elite days.

I would not even be running if I did not have the competitive spirit that used to fire my career way back when

The last time I ran a marathon was the London Marathon in either 1998 or 1999, so long ago I can't even remember.

My personal best is two hours and 35 minutes - and that is bloody good for an old so-and-so who hasn't trained.

Since then, I have been running a half-marathon every Autumn and running two or three times a week.

Former athletes tend to keep a level of fitness and I had much more residual fitness when I did my last marathon than I do now.

But to be honest, I would not even be running if I did not have the competitive spirit that used to fire my career way back when. I know you have to get on with it and be positive.

I said to Gary the danger is not going off at a pace you feel comfortable with; you have to be very disciplined otherwise you will struggle.

Runners in Brooklyn during the New York Marathon
The New York Marathon is one of the big events of the year
The competitive spirit will definitely come out but in a good way because I know I have to run smart.

The thrill for me now has to be being part of a big event, running with 40,000 other people and outside of London, New York was the only event I wanted to run.

I am also running for my charity Coco, which raises money for children whose lives have been affected by poverty, war, disease and famine.

I'm looking forward to it but I'm just a bit worried that's all.

There are of course elite athletes in contention and in the women's race, American world number one Deena Kastor is the favourite.

Paul Tergat is out to defend his men's title but I'm not sure he is running too well and could face a challenge from Olympic champion Stefano Baldini.

Britain's Jon Brown is running his first marathon for a long time after injury. I wouldn't expect too much from him but he will be looking to get close to 2:10 and might get into the top 10.

Radcliffe takes New York honour
28 Oct 06 |  Athletics


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