Athletics: Radcliffe fears rain may ruin her parade

The prospect of the Windy City becoming the Rainy City tomorrow – likely, according to the weather forecasters – means that Paula Radcliffe is facing an uphill struggle in her quest for a marathon world best time, even on the flat streets of a city that boasts the fastest 26.2 miles course on the planet.

Accordingly, as Britain's favourite athlete of the moment prepares to round off her annus mirabilis with victory in the La Salle Chicago marathon, her focus is narrowing upon the result.

Not that that can be taken for granted, given the presence in the field of the 29-year-old Kenyan runner who set the current world best of 2hr 18min 47sec in winning this event last year, Catherine Ndereba.

After Ndereba had become the second women runner under 2hr 20min just a week after Japan's Naoko Takahashi had broken through the barrier, the race organisers named her 'Catherine the Great'. 'Paula the Magnificent' doesn't have quite the same ring, but officials could be racking their brains for a suitable soubriquet if the 28-year-old Bedford athlete's race goes according to plan.

"There are lots of expectations from everybody – but then again I put a lot of expectations on myself," Radcliffe said. "It's very important to finish the year with a good race. It's a fast and sheltered course. I don't mind if it's cold. I don't mind running even in snow. But for the spectators' sake I hope it doesn't rain and isn't too cold. Whatever happens, it's the same for everyone and isn't going to affect the actual race."

Six months after winning her debut marathon in London in a time just nine seconds outside Ndereba's record, Radcliffe is fine tuning her approach for a challenge that will have one very significant difference – this time she will be running alongside men.

"It's going to be difficult with men in the race trying to go off at my own pace and not being tempted to go with them," said Radcliffe, who twice achieved the major gold she has so long sought on the track this season in winning Commonwealth and European 10,000m titles. "We'll see how the race develops – but it's part of my natural style to run hard. Winning the race is what it's all about."

That task will be complicated not just by the presence of Ndereba, but also Deena Drossin, the American who finished runner-up to Radcliffe as she retained her world cross-country title earlier this year, as well as London runner-up Svetlana Zakharova and Japan's new find Yoko Shubui.

The prize for the victor in Chicago's 25th anniversary event is the richest offered by any marathon, £64,000. Should anyone run a world best, there is an additional £96,000 on offer, plus a car.

"It will be a very fast race to watch," said Ndereba. "I know I can do all things. I cannot put a limit on myself. I think Paula ran a very good race in London and I respect her because of her outstanding career. But I compare everybody as a strong challenger. As you saw last year in the men's race here, everybody was watching each other and Ben Kimondio, the pacemaker, just kept going and ended up winning."

The man whom Kimondio surprisingly beat on that occasion, fellow Kenyan Paul Tergat, will be seeking to put things right tomorrow. But Tergat, the second fastest marathon runner in history, faces a tough challenge against the man who bettered his own world best in winning in London this year, Khalid Khannouchi, who is seeking a fourth Chicago title.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
i100
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution