RADCLIFFE WINS DESPITE DRAMA
Paula Radcliffe won the San Silvestre Vallecana road race in Madrid despite a mid-race scare when a spectator accidentally sprayed a streamer into her mouth.
Despite the incident, Radcliffe relished the lively atmosphere of the 10-kilometres competition in the Spanish capital where she was an easy winner ahead of Jelena Prokopcuka.
Radcliffe easily asserted herself over the Latvian, who at the beginning of November succeeded her as New York City Marathon champion and is also a polished 10,000metres runner.
But the Briton's determination - despite the frenzied party atmosphere of the annual event with 10,000 contestants - saw her claim victory around the tight course in an unofficial time of 31 minutes 16 seconds.
Radcliffe ended her year on a winning note almost 200 yards ahead of Prokopcuka, who battled bravely to clinch the runners-up slot.
"A spectator stepped in front of me and sprayed something accidentally into my mouth," said Radcliffe, who played down the incident and recovered almost immediately.
"I'm okay and it is a great way to end 2005 - with a win." added Radcliffe, whose success brought down the curtain in a year in which she regained the Flora London Marathon title and won the World Championship marathon title.
Nick McCormick, Europe's fastest miler this year, was also impeded in the men's race where victory went to Eliud Kipchoge in an unofficial time of 27:51.
"A big fat woman got in the way of me in the last kilometre and almost brought me to a halt," said McCormick, who will run 1,500 metres for Team England at the Commonwealth Games in March.
"It wasn't a real problem as I had dropped off the pace," he added after his top-10 finish in the race won by Kenya's former world 5,000m champion.
"I managed to stay with him and the pack but he flew through 3K in around 7:39, which was too fast for me and I struggled a bit after that," said McCormick, whose unconfirmed time was 28:56.