Athletics: Performance key for Radcliffe

WINNING WILL be more important to Paula Radcliffe than breaking world records in tomorrow's Compaq Road Races at Balmoral Castle.

After setting a world five-mile record performance of 24min 54sec over the same course a year ago, expectations are high that Radcliffe can repeat her memorable performance in the grounds of the Queen's summer residence. However, Radcliffe, 25, who recently returned from Oregon, is more concerned at recording a victory before concentrating on the summer track season.

"It should be a good race, the standard of opposition is very strong," she said. "My aim is to run fast but that will depend very much on the weather conditions."

Radcliffe is in peak condition although she is suffering from a niggling ankle injury picked up when testing running spikes. A fortnight ago she retained her European 10km challenge title in Bilbao, in the process reducing her Commonwealth and UK records to 30min 40.78sec.

Pondering whether another five-mile best is possible, Radcliffe said: "If the leg is okay and weather okay I'll go for it. But you don't know how much the trip to the United States has taken out of me.

"This is my only chance to run on the roads this spring and afterwards I'll be having 10 days' rest. I think last year was a little bit easier coming only a week rather than a fortnight after setting the 10,000m record."

Radcliffe's intention tomorrow is to run a more even paced race than last time where she burst ahead of Liz McColgan from the start, but she is unsure whether her temperament will allow her to hold back. Radcliffe said: "I set off far too fast last year and was quickly on my own. But Maranga has been running really well just recently and should stay with me while Sandell always gives me a hard race."

In the men's five-mile race, the five-time world cross-country champion, Paul Tergat, is also in shape to improve the current world best of 22min 8sec set by his fellow Kenyan Ismael Kirui in Dublin six years ago.

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