BERLIN, Germany, September 22 – Marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe admitted Thursday she will race this weekend’s Berlin marathon with some trepidation and said it is ‘unfair’ her record has been changed.
Sunday’s race will be Radcliffe’s first marathon since New York in 2009.
The 37-year-old admitted she is unimpressed by the news this week her previous best mark of two hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds no longer stands.
Radcliffe set the previous best in a mixed-race at the London marathon in 2003 after using male pace-setters.
Athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, have said only times achieved in all-women competitions will be acknowledged for world record purposes with performances in mixed conditions now being referred to only as “world best”.
This means that Radcliffe’s time of 2:17:42 from London in 2005 is now classed as the world record.
“I think it’s a little unfair,” said the British athlete.
“I honestly don’t think you run harder with men than without men, unless you have them all around you.
“They are pushing you, but you still run your own race.
“I don’t like having someone in front of me anyway, I prefer someone next to me and does it help having someone running with you than someone on a bike?
“The whole thing is weird, to set the world record, then not have the world record, but to still have the world’s best time, it’s all up and down.”
The mother of two will be up against local favourite Irina Mikitenko, who won the Berlin marathon in 2008 with a time of two hours 19:19, and the Kazakhstan-born German is not amused at the rule change.
“I thought it was a joke when I first heard about it,” said the 39-year-old.
“How can you achieve something and then eight years later someone says it’s not valid?”
Race organisers Mark Milder described the IAAF ruling as ‘a step backwards’ but having last run a marathon two years ago, Radcliffe says she is nervous and is just intent on running her own race on Berlin’s streets.
“It’s been a long time since I ran a marathon, so I have a bit of fear,” she said.
“I never have a time in my head before a race, only at Chicago did I run with a time in mind, it’s about how I feel on the day.
“I’ll see how things are after the first few kilometres.
“I had always wanted to tick off Berlin, it was always a race I wanted to run.”
With her 38th birthday approaching in December, Radcliffe says she is not noticing the effects of time on her body, despite giving birth to son Raphael, her second child, in September 2010.
“You need a bit more time for regeneration, whereas I would have taken two days after a hard session, now I take three, but it’s no problem in training,” she said.
While her dream is to claim gold on home soil in the marathon at next year’s Olympic Games in London, Radcliffe says she feels no pressure despite below-par showings at both the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and in Beijing four years ago.
“Realistically, this will probably be my last Olympic games, I really want to win a gold medal, but it won’t define my life if I don’t,” she said.
“I have always said I will run on if I win a gold and there will be no desire to hang up my spikes, if anything it will encourage me to keep on running.
“I am not ruling out running in Rio (2016 Olympic Games), but I prefer to set more middle-term goals, like the 2014 Commonwealth Games.”