Radcliffe to miss Nijmegen 15 k
World marathon champion Paula Radcliffe who has been suffering from bronchitis has pulled out of the Seven Hills Race in Nijmegen on November 20. Radcliffe who would have been making her Dutch road racing debut, intended chasing a fast time in the prestigious international 15 kilometres race. Indeed there were high hopes Radcliffe would strongly challenge the world record time of 46:57 minutes belonging to South Africa's Elana Meyer.
Radcliffe has already unofficially bettered the mark Meyer achieved 10 month's before winning her Barcelona Olympic 10000 metres silver medal with her performance in Cape Town on 2 November 1991. But that came in the slightly non-ratifiable downhill BUPA Great North Run two years when Radcliffe who ran the world's quickest-ever women's half marathon of 65:40 minutes, was 16 seconds faster when passing the 15 K marker.
"Unfortunately, Paula is not in the best of shape," her manager and husband Gary Lough told race organisers on Wednesday morning. Lough added: "Even if she is able to train for 100% until November 20, she will never reach the fitness level that she wants to have to run a quality race such as the Seven Hills Race. "Paula's aim for this 15 km road race was to run really fast, but as a result of the bronchitis she has been suffering from, she is not fit enough to do so," a clear suggestion a world record attempt was being considered. Henk Stevens the race director admitted he and his colleagues who had been trying to attract her to Nijmegen for the last three years, were disappointed.
The prestigious meeting had been built around Radcliffe who would have been contesting her first serious race since winning the World Marathon title in August. Stevens admitted: "For this year's edition the focus of our event was the international women's field, because of Paula's participation. To be honest, until now, we did not invite strong international male athletes, to make sure that the women's race would get full attention. With only 10 days to go, we will have to re-focus and come up with a solution, although with three previous winner's Berhane Adere, Rose Cheruiyot and Mestawet Tufa competing, the women's field remains strong. We will do our utmost to come-up with a quality male field as well," added Stevens at a venue where Felix Limo of Kenya ran a world record 41:29 four years ago.
Radcliffe absence will be missed but she has probably made the right decision when in her first post-Helsinki competition, she never looked comfortable when competing in the low-key Nike Run London Race on October 16. Radcliffe said she had felt tired in the last few days before the race but after easing down in training, still expected to achieve a fast 10 kilometres time. But the world marathon record holder admitted it proved to be a tough encounter and her time of 32:19 was well shy of the world record mark of 30:21 she ran in Puerto Rico in February 2003.
Radcliffe the following day then found herself running a high temperature which halted her training which saw her withdrawal from the following weekend's National Road Relays where she was scheduled to make a rare appearance for her Bedford club. "We haven't made a decision," said Lough when asked if Radcliffe planned withdrawing from the Norwich Union GB team in the Chiba Ekiden Relays in Japan on November 23. "For the moment we're just taking everything day-by-day," he added.
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