Defending, three-time champion returns to NYC aiming for another victory.
Written by: Sarah Wassner Flynn
Clad in jeans and a slim black t-shirt proclaiming “Run NYC”, a fit and focused Paula Radcliffe oozed excitement for her return to the Big Apple, where she hopes to once again don the laurel wreath crown following her finish on Sunday at the 40th running of the New York City Marathon.
“I caught the New York bug way back in 1995 after my first run in Central Park,” said the world record holder, who nabbed marathon wins here in 2004, 2007, and 2008. “I thought there was some sort of carnival going on, but then I realized it was just your typical Sunday in the Park. There is just something so special about this city.”
Seated next to fellow legend and nine-time New York City Marathon champion Grete Waitz, Radcliffe kept things light while dishing about her least-favorite part of the course (the Willis Avenue Bridge, leading into the Bronx) to her post-race splurges (chocolate cake and red wine). But the Brit’s demeanor quickly turned to all-business when speaking about her preparation for Sunday’s race—and her desire to earn her third-straight win.
“I’m a racer. I go into any race wanting to show off all of my hard work and training,” said Radcliffe, who most recently picked up a win here in last August’s New York City Half-Marathon. “I don’t come here to prove anything, but I always want to win. I love winning.” she said.
The women’s group is decidedly less stacked than the men’s—which features defending and two-time champ Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil, four-time Boston winner Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya and 2004 NYC champ Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa along with Ryan Hall and a cadre of top Americans. But Radcliffe was quick to dismiss the notion that she’s racing against a watered-down field.
“The field’s still strong. [Japan’s] Yuri Kano is having a great year, and anytime you have [Ethopia’s] Derartu Tulu in a race, you have to watch out,” she said. “There may also be that one person out there who no one knows about, too. So I won’t make any plans. I’ll trust my instincts and just go.”
Looking on like a wise older sister, Waitz smiled and nodded, saying, “I see a lot of myself in Paula. Our trademark is to run hard from the start—and win.”