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Paula Radcliffe to Defend ING NYC Marathon Title
By David Monti
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NEW YORK (01-Oct) -- World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe said today that she would be on the starting line of the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 2, to defend her title.  The two-time New York champion, who won a thrilling duel with three-time Olympic medalist Gete Wami at last year's race, said she has bounced back from a stress fracture of her left femur which put her on crutches for three weeks and short on preparation for the Beijing Olympic Marathon last August.  In Beijing she bravely limped to a 23rd place finish.

"Hopefully, good shape, and good enough shape to commit to running the race," Radcliffe told reporters on an international conference call today when asked about her fitness.  She added: "I'm pleased to come back to New York, defend my title and run well there."

Radcliffe's participation in the race was confirmed by New York Road Runners president and CEO, Mary Wittenberg.

"We just did the deal with Paula yesterday," Wittenberg told reporters on the teleconference as she waited to board a flight at a New York airport.

Radcliffe, 34, revealed that her body did not sustain any lasting damage from the Olympic Games, but that she took her time to fully recover before resuming her normal training.  She reported some inflammation at the base of her spine, but that condition had cleared up normally with rest.  The stress fracture, which she suffered last May, had fully healed, but her body was noticeably weaker on the left side.

"I knew I had a lot of strengthening work to do," said Radcliffe, who lifted weights three times a week and did "core" exercises to assure the strength and stability of her back and abdomen.

Radcliffe was under tremendous pressure to achieve a medal in Beijing after dropping out of the Athens Olympic Marathon in 2004.  She was unable to do a full marathon preparation prior to Beijing because of the injury, and replaced most of her usual running mileage with cross training in a pool and on a cross country skiing machine before transitioning to running on a special treadmill which reduced her effective body weight.  She arrived on the starting line adjacent to Tiananmen Square with good aerobic fitness, but insufficient mileage and strength in her legs.  She limped badly in the final kilometers of the race which were clearly very painful.  Her 2:32:38 finish time was remarkable given all of her difficulties leading up to the race.

Radcliffe indicated today that she may have one more Olympic Games remaining in her career, a tantalizing thought given that the 2012 Games are in home country of Great Britain.

"I don't think my Olympic career is over yet," she said, admitting that she would be past her physical prime.  But she pointed to the fact that 2008 Olympic champion Constantina Dita of Romania won the race at 38 years-old (Radcliffe would be the same age at the London Olympics).  She still loves to run.

"I still have a huge enjoyment and desire to go out and run each day," she said.  "It would be hard to have that (an Olympic medal) missing from my career."

  NOTE: Read a detailed account of Radcliffe's recovery program in the New York Times by science reporter Gina Kolata here

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