News Archive

News Archive

“It is not an Olympic gold medal" - Allan Steinfelds comment

“It is not an Olympic gold medal. But the world saw what she can do:

Paula Radcliffe won the New York City Marathon.“ That was the comment

made by Allan Steinfeld, the Race Director of the running spectacle, to a

question regarding his estimation of Paula Radcliffe’s achievement. The

30-year-old English woman managed to end a catastrophic year with a success

through an enormous exertion of energy. In a super time of 2:23:10h, the third

fastest time of the year, she crossed the finish in Central Park as the victor

with only a 4-second lead ahead of the Kenyan Susan Chepkemei.

Never before such a finish in the women’s race

Never before in the 35-year-old history of the New York Marathon has there been

such a finish in the women’s race. The men’s race was won by the

South African Hendrik Ramaala in 2:09:28h. And so the victors had a parallel

pre-race history: both dropped out of the Olympic marathon in Athens 10 weeks



It was Paula Radcliffe’s comeback, however, that made the big news in New

York. In Athens, the marathon world record holder (2:15:25h) suffered a double

knockout. She started out as the big favourite, but her dream of her first

Olympic gold ended at the side of the street at 36 kilometres. She sat crying

on the ground after she gave up and gave in to the extreme climatic conditions.

Five days later she tried again in the 10,000m raced—and again did not

make it to the finish. The Olympic nightmare was perfect. It was not the first

time that Paula Radcliffe returned from a big championship empty handed. The

British media had in part already given her up.

A risky decision

To everyone’s surprise, Paula Radcliffe registered for the largest

marathon spectacle in the world only twelve days prior, where she joined a

record number of 37,257 runners at the start on Sunday thrilling 2 million

spectators along the course. Considering the fact that it was really too short

a time to fully recuperate and prepare after Athens, it was a risky decision.

It could have ended in the third disaster within three months, especially since

the night before the race she was fighting a stomach problem. “The

spaghetti Bolognese did not sit with me well, and just kept hoping that nothing

would happen during the race,” stated Paula Radcliffe. “Training

had gone well, and that is why I had decided to race here. I would not have

come had I not had the form for winning.“


She entered the race with race number F111. This unusually high number for a

favourite had brought her luck once already—at her marathon debut in

London 2002 she won with the number F111 as well.

“There may have been a certain physical risk in starting here,”

said Paula Radcliffe’s manager, Mann Gary Lough. “But Paula felt

good, and she was looking forward to running another race. It was not her

intent to prove anything to anyone. It was most important for Paula to find the

joy of running again.“

She managed to do that in New York, even though she had to fight hard to win

her fourth of five marathons. “It was a hard race at the end of a hard

year. But I feel good again —like I used to feel. Athens was the greatest

disappointment of my whole career. It was important after that to come back and

be successful,” said Great Britain’s athlete of the year 2003, for

whom BBC even made a last minute change in programming.

Paula Radcliffe’s race was broadcast live.

Looking forwards

“It is difficult to even out what happened in Athens. That cannot be

undone. But it is over and I am looking forwards again,” said Paula

Radcliffe, who was surprised at the great support she received from the

spectators in New York. “There were many Brits on the street who cheered

me on. The only place it was really quiet was on the first stretch after the

start on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. There I enjoyed the view of the Statue

of Liberty.” In the end, the New York Marathon was a personal liberation

for Paula Radcliffe.