Record-holder Paula Radcliffe stepped up her bid to run in the marathon at the world athletics championships next Sunday with victory on her competitive return to action.
The British runner, who is hoping to win back the title she won the last time she competed at the event in Helsinki in 2005, triumphed in the New York City half-marathon for the third time on Sunday morning. It was the 35-year-old’s first race since winning the full marathon in the same city nine months ago, having since been sidelined by a foot operation. She was due to fly to Germany following the race to discuss her fitness with UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee and make a decision about whether she will race in Berlin. Radcliffe missed the 2007 world championships after falling pregnant with her first child, and then suffering back problems. She battled to be fit for the Beijing Olympics after breaking her leg, but could finish only 23rd as she suffered from cramp.
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However, New York has once again proved to be one of her favorite race venues, and she won the half-marathon easily in a time of one hour, nine minutes and 45 seconds – just two seconds outside the record set in its inaugural staging in 2006 by Catherine Ndereba of Kenya. Radcliffe broke clear of Mamitu Daska just before the eight-mile mark, with the Ethiopian finishing the 13.1-mile event in second place and Ndereba third. Tadese Tola of Ethiopia defending his men’s title in 1:01:06, with Moroccan Ridouane Harroufi second (1:02:33) and American Ryan Hall third. Meanwhile, Olympic and world champion Olga Kaniskina successfully defended her 20-kilometer title in Berlin on Sunday. The 24-year-old followed up compatriot Valeriy Borchin’s victory in the men’s race on Saturday to mean that Russian women have won the event for the past five championships. Ireland’s Olive Loughnane was second, 49 seconds back, with China’s Liu Hong claiming the bronze medal.