Top distance runners square up in unique Vienna chase race
Saturday, 14 April 2012
April 14 - Paula Radcliffe, who has only recently recovered from bronchitis, will get an advantage of exactly 7min 52sec when racing against Haile Gebrselassie in Vienna's OMV Champions Race tomorrow.
The margin was one she suggested herself in the pre-race press conference, in which she said it might be the difference between their personal bests at the half-marathon distance.
The two 38-year-old legends (pictured top) will compete in a unique chase race, one of a number of running events included into the Vienna City Marathon which is an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Gold Label Road Race.
A total of 36,000 athletes have entered the various races of Austria's biggest sporting event.
"I have to thank the organisers for putting on this race – it will be unique, but in the end it is a competition," said Gebrselassie (pictured below).
"I am a bit worried, though, because I have no information about Paula's shape!"
The Briton responded: "This is something new and I am looking forward to it."
Feted Ethiopian Gebrselassie, who won two Olympic gold medals in the 10,000 metres and set two world marathon records plus another 18 official and seven unofficial world records, established Vienna's half-marathon course record a year ago with 60min 18sec.
Asked about Paula Radcliffe, Gebrselassie – who will turn 39 next Wednesday (April 18) – he commented: "What can I say about Paula?
"We need athletes like her to keep athletics big.
"Paula is a symbol for our sport.
"She is exceptional – people say her world marathon record will be very difficult to beat.
"There is a difference between Paula and me this year – she will run the Olympics, I will only be there to watch her!"
The exact time difference had not been set before their pre-race press conference; instead organisers turned to the athletes on stage to determine it.
Radcliffe, whose world record stands at 2hr 15min 25sec, suggested: "Maybe the time difference should be the difference between our personal records."
Of her preparation she said: "I have had a difficult past two weeks because of bronchitis.
"There were times when I thought I would not be able to come to Vienna.
"It got better this week and I could train for the first time on Tuesday again.
"Because of this I am not sure what I can run on Sunday."
Radcliffe (pictured above) has run 65:40, but this was on the slightly downhill Great North Run course from Newcastle to South Shields; So the time she was referring to during her suggestion to race organisers was 66: 47.
Gebrselassie boasts a PB of 58:55, which was a world record in 2006; the difference is 7:52.
"Wow, that will be tough – but what can I do?" he remarked.
"Okay, I will start 7min 52sec behind Paula."
He then turned to the audience and exclaimed: "Please wish me good luck!"
Radcliffe will start her race at exactly 08:50:38am on Sunday; Gebrselassie then begins chasing at 08:58:30.
Shortly afterwards the marathon event will be started and the mass race will follow at 9am.
"I hope to be able to produce a good solid run and I would be happy with a time of sub-70 minutes," said Radcliffe.
"I hope it does not come [down] to a sprint in the final 100 metres – in this case I know who my money would be on!"
March 2012: Gebrselassie to give Radcliffe a start in Vienna's OMV half marathon