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November 4, 2007

Paula Radcliffe


THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome our ING New York City Marathon 2007 champion winner Paula Radcliffe, who is also the 2004 champion, a wire-to-wire win today. Paula, congratulations. If you could say a couple words about today's race and then we'll open it up for questions.
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Thank you. Yeah, I guess it was a good day for racing. I love this, and I really enjoyed being back full stop and racing marathons and winning marathons. It just felt like it was me and Gete back in 1992 or something. But a lot of support out there, and I would just like to add that my thoughts are with the family and friends of Ryan Shay yesterday. It was a really tragic thing and puts everything into perspective a little bit.

Q. Now that you've experienced both, what hurt more, childbirth or the last two miles today (laughter)?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Childbirth actually, it was more frustration than pain for me because it went on so long. My body wasn't working with me, and it just seemed to be blocking the baby getting out at every opportunity. Whereas today, I think definitely I felt stronger coming back after the pregnancy. My legs were tired because probably I didn't have quite enough work behind them. But cardiovascularly I felt good and felt under control. Yeah, I was pleased with how I was getting there and pleased with the way things were kind of working, too, for Beijing.

Q. It wasn't until I think the final time when Gete made her sprint that you actually had to look behind. Did you have any sense as to how much she had left in the tank, because you responded immediately when she pushed ahead.
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I didn't realize -- I thought I had a little gap around 23 miles. I didn't realize I had as big as apparently I had there. And then she came back to me, and then she surged along Central Park south towards Columbus Circle, and I thought, she can't think it finishes at Columbus Circle because it's 800 meters to go. There's big signs marked up. But that seemed to be her effort. And I think in her mind I've been there so many, so many times with Gete on my shoulder coming into the final 400 meters, and I was thinking that this was my turn, this is the marathon this time, and I think a little bit to my advantage the last because it's uphill, it's not like a track race, and I've run that a lot of times when I've been here in the Park, went out there and did my strides over there on Thursday night just at the finishing stretch. So I knew how far it was into the finish, and all I was thinking was just come on, think back to all the times I was cross training, just give myself a mantra or something just to keep my legs turning over as fast as I could and stay relaxed because with me if I tense up I tend to actually show down. But then at the finish I thought she was right behind me. Even 50 meters from the line I was thinking, don't even think about it until you cross that line.

Q. When she did make a break, what were you thinking?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I was thinking about from about 23 miles, thinking, yeah, that's why I'm not going to go too early, I'm not going to be desperately trying to shake her off because I can come back if I play it smart, as well, and gauge it right so I'm finishing as fast as I possibly can into the last 500 meters.

Q. So did it help when she surged? You seemed to get an inspiration when she came alongside you?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, because I looked back just once and she seemed to be a way back. So then I thought, okay, I'm away, and that lifted me a little bit. And then the next thing, she obviously almost came past me. So I surged again, and I thought, I'm not giving up on this. It was weird because I thought I was away once already and then she kind of made a surge to come bark, and I don't know if that was the last ditch attempt, but I wasn't taking anything for granted when I crossed the line.

Q. Your style, your running style, shows that you're working very hard. To the uninitiated out there who maybe haven't run marathons or don't watch them that often, would you describe what went on today as fun?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, I enjoyed it. I've really, really missed it. It's way more fun than cross training in a pool or cross training in a gym, and that's what it's all about. That's what keeps me motivated to work hard and to cross train hard is just getting out there and enjoying the atmosphere. The crowds were amazing today, and the whole way along people were just encouraging us and shouting and all sorts of funny things and just helpful things. It just really helps to lift you, and yeah, it's great fun.

Q. Watching the last kilometer on TV, we were seeing your face, and it kind of seemed like it was in pain while the other was kind of relaxed. It seems like if you want to bet something you were going to bet on the other one. Were you in pain? Were you ever afraid that you were not going to win this race?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I mean, I think I always knew it was going to be a tough race. I really, really respect Gete, and I know if I'm with her coming into the last couple of miles it's going to be tough and I'm going to have to really, really draw on every last reserve that I have to beat her. But I have been racing since 1992, and I know that Gete can look relaxed right until you've beaten her, so it's not to worry if she looks relaxed because I always look like I'm killing myself in the first mile. Everybody's face is deceptive and it's about how much you have left inside and how much you want to win.

Q. You mentioned keeping in perspective what happened yesterday. Did that stay with you yesterday and today? Was it on your mind, in the back of your mind, as you prepared for today?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I think it definitely touched me because it's just a really tragic thing, and I think it certainly puts it in perspective in terms of we're just racing. It's just a race at the end of the day. It's not something as tragic as what happened yesterday. That's why my thoughts are with his friends and family.

Q. Just how nerve wracking is it to have someone on your heels for that long, that distance? And also maybe secondarily can you talk about some of the other battles you've had with Gete over the years?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I think the first half it was pretty relaxed. We were just running together. It's slightly different running on the road to running on the track with somebody behind you because she wasn't right, right behind me a lot of the time. We were sort of alongside each other, and I still knew that I was pretty comfortable running along. And then when you come into the final couple miles, the fact that I know her very well and I know that she can a lot of times finish very fast and I'm going to really need to be right on top of my game to be able to stay with her, then yeah, that's nerve-wracking. But at the same time it's different sprinting at the end of a marathon to just sprinting -- going down to the track and running flat out 400 meters. That's why I say that maybe a little bit of experience in the marathon sort of helped me there, and certainly experience over this course.
THE MODERATOR: Can you just confirm, our records show that you have never raced against Gete over the marathon distance. Do you remember that?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I don't know.
THE MODERATOR: Our records show that this is the first time they've raced over the marathon distance.

Q. Would you say this is the best win of your career?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: To be honest, I don't think it's been a bad -- I never thought it was a comeback. In fact I'd say I would have thought I'd be back sooner than I was. I think probably mentally coming into it was probably a tougher thing to come back here in 2004 than it was this year. I was just out there having fun today. But it was very important to me to win the race. I'm not going to lie about that. I came here to win, and to be honest I was happy with the way things panned out. I'm happy with the win today.

Q. And in terms of Beijing, where does that leave you now in terms of plan?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I think it's a good first step back. I'm happy enough with that, and I'll go away and take my break and get back into training and see if I come out of this before I make any decisions about what I'll do between now and Beijing. No, I'm pleased with that. Even though I've got just over ten weeks of running training behind me, I'm pleased with how things came together.

Q. Do you think you'll run a marathon before Beijing?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: That's something I'll have to decide when I come back after my break. I'll see how my legs have recovered and decide whether I need to after this race.

Q. Your necklace seems to be banging all over the place; is that a lucky charm?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, it's my lucky one.

Q. Did you feel that you had something to prove to people perhaps, coming back after giving birth to a child and running like that?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I don't think I had anything to prove. I think I was just enjoying being back, to be honest. I didn't feel like I needed to absolutely come back here and prove myself. I felt that I wanted to come here. I like coming to New York. I don't come to races unless I think I can really sort of give 100 percent, and I thought giving 100 percent today would be good enough to win the race.
THE MODERATOR: Just a fact, just as much as Paula loves coming to New York, New York loves Paula. This is her fifth win in a row here in New York, a five-race winning streak here in New York.

Q. The Ethiopians have often used the trick of refusing to pass, refusing the set the lead in Sidney and elsewhere. Do you think it's unsporting to do that? Would it have been more sportsman like for her to take the lead for a while? And secondly, I think she was only in the lead for ten seconds of the race on Central Park South. Did you feel you had to cover her immediately? You didn't allow her more than ten seconds until you were back in the lead.
PAULA RADCLIFFE: No, because there was 500 meters to go, and I wasn't going to let her get any further away. She kind of made a move and I responded to it as fast as I could. But at the same time I was really making sure that for me it was a gradual wind-up so I could get faster at 300, get faster again at 200 and then the final 100. So that was the plan going into it, and I just responded to that.
And in terms of being sporting, you run a race to win the race. If you've got a really fast finish, then I guess they're going to sit behind. It's different, but I wouldn't criticize anyone's racetrack particulars. They're just tactics. You just have to learn to race to combat that.

Q. The second part of your question kind of got lost. Can you talk about the match-up between you and Wami?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: How do you mean?

Q. The match-up, the results of your racing between you and Wami over the years.
PAULA RADCLIFFE: What the results have been?

Q. About the rivalry.
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Well, I've been racing her, I think, since 1992. I think I won that one. And then she went into 10-Ks for a little bit while I was still running 5-Ks. And then probably got back racing each other in '99 -- well, I ran cross country before that, and then '99 in Seville and she beat me there, and then 2001 we had a great rivalry at the world cross country championships where I came back and beat her. So it was very important to me to win a world cross country title on the long course on Saturday, and then on Sunday it was reversed. So yeah, we've raced kind of like that. She was in front of me in Sidney, she was in front of me in Edmonton. I think that's it. It's been very much -- we've known each other a lot, and we've sort of probably learned a lot about each other and the way we race.

Q. I'm just wondering how do you plan to become a mother in the middle of the Olympics cycle and was this sort of coming back to race in New York and building up to Beijing, was that planned or just the way things panned out?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, I mean, having a child was planned, and I guess when I was sitting here pregnant last year, in my mind I was thinking, oh, I'd love to be back here racing. I sat in the stands and I missed not being out there racing. My husband was out there racing, and I was like, I want to be out there, too. But I had a really great reason not to be.
I guess in my mind I thought I'd be back racing a little bit before now. But that said, I knew that people can have hiccups and difficulties coming back after having a baby, which is why we planned it with enough of a gap for things to be fine going into Beijing.

Q. You've won every marathon you've ever finished. First of all, how big a point of pride do you have in that, and can you conceive of doing that over your entire career?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I'd love to be able to do that. Yeah, I'm proud of that. I think that I have found my event in the marathon. And certainly I think that that helps me to dictate the end of a race, because I do have pride and I'm not going to sort of let someone beat me. I'm going to give everything I have right to the line.

Q. Training is running, but when the gun goes off at a major championship, it's racing. How did it feel to tap into that vibe again?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Oh, brilliant. I was just enjoying it. There were some times in the race where I was thinking, this is what I've been training for, and this is especially what kept me motivated when I was in the pool because I don't enjoy that to be honest. I enjoy running training, but all the time cross training it was just thinking about getting back racing that was motivating me.

Q. This is billed as one of the best wins of all time, but you were right from the start, you broke. Was that your strategy, and what happened to the rest of the field?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I didn't really have a strategy going into it. Gary said to me at the hotel, what miles are you running, what space are you planning to run, and I said I'm just going to see how I mile. I felt good the first mile, and I was looking around and nobody really seemed to want to go out. So then I just strode out. I was feeling relaxed. I wasn't feeling like I was pushing at that point, and quite quickly it was down to myself and Gete and then just kind of relaxed into it and just tried to concentrate on running the race. I wasn't really thinking too much about trying to run specific times. I was mixing up the pace a little bit sometimes, and the wind made a lot of the mile splits go up and down, I suppose.

Q. You said before the race that this was the first step to Beijing. How big a step was it toward Beijing for you?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I think it's an important step. It's important to get back to racing the marathon. I definitely feel it's a more positive step after the last one. I felt frustrated after that, when things don't go according to plan.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to ask one quick question to Paula. Any difference out there running without the pacers today? This is the first time we haven't had pacers here in New York in a while. Any difference whatsoever?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I didn't notice any, no, sorry.
THE MODERATOR: Our champion, Paula Radcliffe. Thank you.

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