Athletics: Radcliffe returns to form in record time

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Another run, another record for Paula Radcliffe. Yesterday in Hyde Park, the 29-year-old Bedford runner won the Flora Light Challenge for Women in a world best 5km road time of 14min 51sec.

In what was only her second race since the period of illness and injury which forced her to miss last month's World Championships in Paris, Radcliffe beat a field which included the Olympic 10,000 metres champion, Derartu Tulu, and Ireland's former course record holder, Sonia O'Sullivan, finishing almost half a minute ahead of the Ethiopian.

"I felt a bit rusty, and I wasn't quite as aware of the splits as I might have been," Radcliffe said. "But I'm pleased with how quickly I've got back into shape."

Radcliffe, who in the space of the last year has established two world bests for the marathon as well as setting European 10,000m and Commonwealth 5,000m records, is now the fastest woman ever on the roads at both 5km and 10km. She ran the latter distance last weekend, in her first race back, recording 30.50, less than half a minute outside her world best of 30.21 which she set in Puerto Rico in February.

On a twisting course, Radcliffe had established herself as a clear leader after the first two kilometres as she came over the rise to Speakers' Corner, a lead she stretched to 60 metres by the end of the third kilometre.

Her finishing time bettered by three seconds the previous best jointly held by Deena Drossin, of the United States, and Ethiopia's Berhane Adere.

Radcliffe's next challenge will come in Sunday's Great North Run, a week after which she will contest the World Half Marathon Championship at Vilamoura, Portugal. The Briton won the latter title two years ago in Bristol, but was unable to defend it last year because of other racing commitments.

"I'm going for the grand slam," Radcliffe joked yesterday, although events of the last two years have made it clear that no ambition appears to be beyond her reach.

Kenya's former marathon world record holder Catherine Ndereba, who won the world title in Paris last month, finished fifth in 15.36, with Britain's Charlotte Dale two places behind in 16.20.