Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Paula Radcliffe

Paula Jane Radcliffe, MBE (born December 17, 1973) is an English long-distance runner. She is the current world record holder for the women’s marathon, which she set during the 2003 London Marathon, with a time of 2:15.25.

Early career Paula Radcliffe

Radcliffe was born in Northwich, Cheshire but she grew up in Bedfordshire and is a member of Bedford Athletic Club. She studied French, German and economics at Loughborough University. Her early running success was in cross country events, including the 1992 World Junior title, beating Wang Junxia. She missed the 1994 season through injury, but came back with a succession of good results at 5000 m, including fifth place in both the 1995 World Championships and 1996 Olympic Games. Although silver-medalist in the 1999 World Championships in Athletics Radcliffe seemed destined never to win a major 5,000 m or 10,000 m title, finishing out of the medals at the 2000 Olympic Games and 2001 World Championships in Athletics

Radcliffe is not known for her sprint finish and relies on setting a punishing pace from the start with the aim of pulling away from her opponents.

Later career – Paula Radcliffe

In 2002, Radcliffe made the move up to the marathon, a decision that immediately paid off with victory at that year’s London Marathon in a world’s best time for a women’s only race. Later that year, Radcliffe set a world record time of 2:17:18 in the Chicago Marathon on October 13, 2002, breaking the previous record by a minute and a half. She broke the record again in London marathon in April 2003, with a time of 2:15:25. She won the New York Marathon even though not fully prepared (the only occasion that a competitor came within a minute of her). Of the seven marathons Radcliffe has run so far, she has won six and set a record in five, building up a claim to be the best female distance runner of all time in her age group. She has run four out of the five fastest times in history in the women’s marathon (fourth place being held by Catherine Undersea).

2004 Olympics – Paula Radcliffe

Radcliffe did not compete in the London Marathon in 2004, but was the favourite to win the gold medal in the marathon at that year’s Olympic Games. However, she suffered an injury to her leg just two weeks prior to the event and had to use a high dose of anti-inflammatory drugs. This had an adverse effect on her stomach hindering food absorption. The resultant lack of energy and carbohydrates in her system before the start of the race led to her distressing withdrawal after 36 km. Five days later she started in the 10,000 metres but, still suffering from the effects of the marathon, retired with eight laps remaining.

Regarded as Great Britain’s best gold medal hope in athletics, her withdrawal made headlines in the UK. Radcliffe was aware of the public’s expectations of her and was emotionally devastated after the Marathon.
Paula Radcliffe leading the London Marathon in 2005, near to Lime house in East London

Post 2004 Olympics

She made a successful comeback in her next marathon, winning the 2004 New York Marathon in a time of 2 hours 23 minutes 10 seconds. After a close race with Kenya’s Susan Cherokee her greater strength allowed her to pull away to victory at the end.

At the 2005 London Marathon she won with a time of 2 hours 17 minutes 42 seconds, a world’s best time for a women’s only race by over a minute. The race however is remembered more for a notorious moment towards the end when Radcliffe, feeling hindered by the need for a toilet break, stopped and defecated on the side of the street in plain view of the crowd and TV camera’s which broadcast the incident to millions of viewers watching live. Radcliffe apologised to viewers after the race, saying that her bowels were disturbing her and slowing her down as a result, and she knew she would be better once she let it out. The incident was widely reported in the press gaining much notoriety. In November 2006, the incident was voted “The top running moment in history” from a choice of 10 “unforgettable moments” [1][2].

On August 14, 2005 she won her first gold medal at the World Championships when she took the marathon title in Helsinki, Finland, dominating the race and setting a championship record time of 2 hours, 20 minutes and 57 seconds. For the same race, she and three other British runners were awarded third place in the team competition.

Other achievements and awards

Radcliffe has set numerous records, official and unofficial, on the track and the roads. She currently (as of 11 October 2006) holds the official world record for 10 km on roads. She has thrice won the World Half-Marathon championships, twice the World Cross-Country championships (in 2001 and 2002), and in December 2003 became European Cross-Country champion for the second time, the only woman to have achieved this feat in the event’s ten-year history. Forced out of the Paris World Athletics Championships because of injury in 2003, her greatest moment on the track has been European gold at 10,000 m in 2002. Hindered by back-markers, and in the rain, she nevertheless ran a time of 30:01.09 ( a European record by 12 seconds, and second only to Wang Junxia’s controversial world record time of 29:31.78 set in Beijing [3] ). The same year she won Commonwealth Games gold in the 5000m, missing the world record by three seconds. She was awarded an MBE in June 2002, and later in the year became the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

In July 2006, Radcliffe, who had not raced for over six months due to a metatarsal injury, announced she was pregnant but insisted she wanted to compete in the next two Olympic Games.[1]

Anti doping

Radcliffe’s athletic ability and commitment to training are accompanied by a strong belief in playing by the rules. She has frequently made high-profile condemnations of performance-enhancing drugs in athletics, most famously at the World Athletics Championships in Edmonton in 2001 when Radcliffe and team-mate Haley Tulle held up a sign protesting against the reinstatement of Russian athlete Olga Yegorova, after Yegorova had tested positive for the banned substance EPO. Radcliffe also wears a red ribbon when competing to show her support for blood testing as a method of catching drugs cheats.



  1. Reblogged this on truegritfitnessandnutrition and commented:
    I had to pull his from Lady Romp’s blog. Paula Radcliffe is an amazing athlete and an inspiration to all women.

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