Women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe is set to receive the inaugural John Disley London Marathon Lifetime Achievement Award after the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon it was announced here today.
Radcliffe is set to bid farewell to the race on Sunday having won the race on three occasions, setting the world record of 2 hours 15min 25sec, on during her second victory in 2003.
She also won the race in 2002 and 2005.
The 41-year-old is due to begin the race for the first time amongst the mass start, rather than the elite field and will be presented the award by John Disley, the 1952 Olympic 3,000 metres steeplechase bronze medallist who was co-founder of the London Marathon with Chris Brasher in 1981.
“We are delighted to have Paula running with us again this year,” said Hugh Brasher, London Marathon race director, the son of Chris.
“I can’t think of a more deserving inaugural winner of the John Disley London Marathon Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Anyone who saw Paula’s world record in 2003 will remember it as one of the outstanding athletics performances of our time.
“She is one of only three women to win the race more than twice and her attitude and achievements have played a huge role in boosting women’s running.”
Radcliffe has been suffering with Achilles tendon problems in the build-up to the race but nevertheless believes she is in good enough condition to complete the distance.
Radcliffe claimed she is determined to remain involved in athletics in some capacity, whether continuing her ongoing broadcast commitments, mentoring athletes or beginning to work within the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and anti-doping aspects of the sport.
Twelve-years on from her world record Radcliffe claimed the strong field for the 35th edition of the London Marathon could target her mark.
“I think it is definitely under threat, it is every year,” she said.
“I haven’t seen the latest weather forecast, because that is important, the way it comes together, it’s a very strong field who can certainly run fast, but in terms of picking a winner, I don’t know.
“For the marathon you really need to seize the opportunity, you’ve put so much into the training cycle and so many time it does not pay off, you don’t get to the start line or conditions aren’t right on the day and you can’t capitalise on everything.”
Among the favourites are the fabled "fantastic four" from Kenya, defending champion Edna Kiplagat, 2013 winner Priscah Jeptoo, Commonwealth Games 10,000 metres bronze medallist Florence Kiplagat and Mary Keitany, chasing her third victory having won the race in 2011 and 2012.
Edna Kipligat claimed Radcliffe's 2:15:25 is out of reach but her women-only marathon world record of 2:17:42, set in 2005 in a race with no male pacemakers is a realstic target.
“Paula has been a great athlete and a great inspiration to women marathon runners,” she said.
“We look up to what Paula has done, especially her solo world record, and that is what we are trying to go for on Sunday.”
Attempting to prevent Kenyan dominance will be Ethopia’s Aselefech Mergia, hoping to continue her good form, in the second event of the World Marathon Major series which began in Tokyo on February 22, having recently won in Dubai.
Organisers are set to mark the 35th anniversary of the London Marathon by reflecting on the first edition of the race, which saw Joyce Smith win the women’s event, but also saw the unusual ending to the men’s race where there was a dead heat for first place between Norway’s Inge Simonsen and the United States Dick Beardsley who completed the distance in 2:11:48
The two men crossed the line of the inaugural event holding hands, in what Beardsley described as a “spontaneous act”, and runners are being encouraged to remember the act of sportsmanship this year by to crossing the finishing the line holding hands and tweeting #handinhand.
March 2015: Bekele withdraws from Virgin Money London Marathon but top Kenyans and Ethiopians added
February 2015: "Integrity" key as World Marathon Majors announces unprecedented anti-doping and prize money format
January 2015: Mike Rowbottom: Fingers crossed for Radcliffe's London Marathon swansong - a decade after Holmes bade farewell on a TV camera buggy
January 2015: Kenya's "Fantastic Four" will contest a 2015 London Marathon due to be Radcliffe's swansong
January 2015: Kimetto and Kipsang to clash in star-studded men's London Marathon field