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Last Updated:  Sunday, 13 April, 2003, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Remarkable Radcliffe

By Steve Cram
BBC Sport

We expected her to run fast, but not that fast.

It really is getting more and more difficult to find anything else to say about what Paula Radcliffe has been doing.

But her performance in the London Marathon was quite simply remarkable.

Radcliffe races to her record win
We knew she was in good shape and we knew, despite what she was saying publicly, that she would have set her sights on a fast time.

Personally I thought she may get close to two hours 16 but she just went out and blew everybody apart.

I think she probably went through the first half a little bit faster than even she planned, particularly the sub five-minute mile she ran on the third mile.

At that point she would have been at the front of the men's race, never mind anything else.

But it just kept coming all the way to the finishing line and it will be an awfully long time before that time is bettered.

She'll now concentrate on this season's track and next year's Olympics, and, perhaps she knew that in the back of her mind and wanted to do something that would sit there for a while and that no-one would get close to.

There has been a bit of fuss about the pacemakers, but even without them Paula would have broken the record.

She was 15th overall and there aren't many men who could keep pace with her, but five of those 15 who could were involved in an absolutely fantastic finish.

The women's and men's marathons were two very different races, Paula against the clock and then something that was in the balance until the final few yards.

Abera leaves it late on the line
In men's racing at the moment there are so many good athletes, and I mean winners, not guys who pick up second and third places.

I felt sorry for Paul Tergat, but in Gezahegne Abera he came up against someone with a better finish - it's what he does.

It's a big risk and I'd hate to run all that way to get pipped on the line, but it's Abera's way and it's what he did at the World Championships and the Olympic Games.

He knows nobody can outkick him at the end, and although I bet he got a bit of a fright, particularly from Stefano Baldini, Abera just had enough.

Both races were a great testimony to Chris Brasher, as is the event itself, which is without doubt the best marathon in the world.

The only negative on the day is how poor endurance running is on the domestic side.

You would hope that with the world's best marathon on your shores you could produce a greater depth in talent.

Hopefully something can be done to put that right in the future, but for now thank goodness for Paula.





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