Paula to say her marathon farewell today

Paula Marathon records

Paula Radcliffe (handicap 3.7) will run, what could be, her final marathon in just a few hours time at the Virgin Money London Marathon where thousands of fellow-runners and fans will cheer her along just as they did in 2003 when she set her world record of 2:15:25.

On that day, 12 years ago, she blew everyone away as the world witnessed a demonstration of astounding athleticism and racing strategy. I was one of the spectators on the course that day. Positioned around Tower Bridge, I watched her eating up the miles as she came by just before half way and then waited nervously to see whether she had been able to keep that intensity going for the next nine miles or so. She was on her own by then and I wondered whether she had got the pace right. Would she be able to keep it going or would she now be losing time in each mile? She was soon to put me out of my misery though as she came by the Tower Hotel with the same determined rhythm as she headed now towards the finish. At that point, I ran into the Tower Hotel to watch her finish on the television, with several male athletes who had been some of the best in Britain, all anxiously waiting to see whether she would run faster than they ever had - and she did!

Today, Paula's target will be different. After struggling with injuries for the last couple of years, her pace won't be as fast but I'm guessing her determination to run a good race will still be evident and the crowds will be behind her as she makes her way from Blackheath to The Mall.

Good luck Paula and to everyone else who is taking part in the Virgin Money London Marathon today. We'll all be cheering for you - enjoy the day! 

Jackie Newton