Today, Paula Radcliffe joined us it the Virgin Money London Marathon Race Week headquarters at the Tower Hotel in London. She was in for a surprise when, at the beginning of what she thought was a straightforward question and answer session, Race Director Hugh Brasher took the stage to announce that, after the race on Sunday, Paula will be presented with the John Disley London Marathon Lifetime Achievement Award.
Hugh said that he worked in a sports shop at the time of Paula’s incredible 2:15:25 world marathon record in 2003 and, after the race, the shop was sold out of women’s running shoes for 3 months. He went on to describe Paula as a “living legend” who has been an incredible inspiration to runners, especially female runners. Paula responded to the announcement by saying that for her, it has been the other way around; it was the London Marathon that has inspired her to become the runner she is.
The first question on everyone’s lips for Paula was, are you going to run head down to get a good time, or head up waving to the crowd? Paula answered
I want to enjoy it but want to feel I’ve run it hard and given it as good a shot as I can. Definitely savouring the atmosphere but also pushing myself.“
She added that she was really looking forward to running with the masses, in the midst of the crowd, rather than out in front by herself.
Paula’s career has spanned around 25 years, and she tells us that although you try to appreciate it at the time, it’s difficult to look at it as a whole when you’re always having to tick off the next race on your list. She says that she is much more able to appreciate her incredible career now, especially after her operation in 2012 which temporarily stopped her running altogether. She described her career as “a gift“. When asked whether she was going to be taking up fishing or golf after her retirement from running, she said
I don’t feel as though I’ve missed out or had to make huge sacrifices. I’m lucky enough to have a hobby that I’ve been able to make a career out of.
The 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon sees the launch of the #handinhand campaign, a homage to the first London Marathon when Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen drew for first place and crossed the line holding hands. When asked who she would like to cross the finish line #handinhand with, Paula tells us that it would be her dad, a keen amateur marathon runner, adding that she had always hoped to run the London Marathon with him, but by the time she came to marathons, he was no longer able to run such a long distance.
As she prepares for her final London Marathon appearance, Paula tells us that when she explained to her daughter that she won’t be running competitively any more, her daughter responded “you haven’t been competitive for a few years, mummy!“.