Radcliffe out to own New York

Briton confident injury will not hurt tomorrow's bid for hat-trick of marathon titles

Paula Radcliffe arrived in the Big Apple this week with a Halloween witch's costume in her suitcase and with something of a scare on the injury front ahead of the defence of her unbeaten big city marathon record here tomorrow. "I tweaked my hamstring in my last workout," the Briton confided at a breakfast meeting with the media in the basement of a Manhattan hotel yesterday. "I came out here a bit ditzy but I've had treatment and I'm feeling better. I'm back running and I believe I'm going to be fine in the race."

Thank goodness for that, then. Having missed the London Marathon, World Championship marathon and world half marathon championship race this year because of toe surgery and tonsillitis, Radcliffe has been due a break. For once, the Englishwoman has no demons to exorcise in New York. The witch's costume is not for her personal use in the ING New York City Marathon tomorrow. Her daughter Isla, aged two years and 10 months, will be wearing it at a Halloween trick or treat party for the children of the elite athletes this afternoon.

Radcliffe's winning New York runs of 2004 and 2008 came on the back of Olympic disappointments that were prompted by ill-timed illness and injury; she also won here in 2007, 10 months after giving birth to her daughter. Halloween celebrations today just happen to coincide with the 1,000 day countdown to the 2012 Olympics but the ghosts of Games past are no spectre to the world's fastest ever female marathon runner as she works towards a shot at Olympic redemption on home ground. Quite the opposite, in fact.

"I just have a relaxed feeling about 2012," Radcliffe reflected. "I know it sounds stupid, because it should probably be the other way round – because of the amount of pressure and with it being realistically my last shot at an Olympics. But I think maybe what I've been through at the Olympics makes me have that more relaxed approach to it – that it's gone so bad sometimes that it's got to work out well some other time.

"I think the more relaxed I stay about it the better. If you get too worried and too stressful around it that can become counter-productive. I've kind of learnt that however much and however badly you want something, it doesn't necessarily have to be yours. But if you stay relaxed and just see how things go, then sometimes you've got a better chance of getting it.

"Maybe it's getting older, getting wiser. Isla's part of that. By having her here, by having her able to come round and dress up in her witch's costume for Halloween, that does help keep you relaxed about things."

Olympic gold is the one prize to have eluded Radcliffe in a trailblazing distance running career in which she has put the women's world marathon record out of sight, at 2hr 15min 25sec. The Bedfordshire woman has run eight big city marathons and won them all. Her only two defeats at the 26.2 mile distance have come in Olympic races. And yet, 1,000 days out, she is looking at 2012 as not some looming great burden of pressure but as an opportunity to savour.

"I think back to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 and I think the boost of running at home is going to be way higher than the pressure," she said. "I do think it's going to be a way bigger positive. Other Olympics have shown that with home athletes."

By the time 2012 comes round, Radcliffe and her husband Gary Lough hope they will have a brother or sister for Isla. "That's something you can't plan," she said, when asked into which particular window in her diary another pregnant pause might fall. The 35-year-old also suggested yesterday that her marathon running days might even extend beyond 2012. "By no means am I saying, 'Right, the minute I cross the line in 2012 that's it, my career's hung up and finished'," she said. "I'd love it to carry on."

Helping to keep Radcliffe going tomorrow through the five New York City boroughs will be the inspiration of two women who have had a far greater fight on their hands than that of racing 26.2 miles. Grete Waitz won the big race in the Big Apple a record nine times. The Norwegian has been fighting cancer for four years but will be following Radcliffe's progress from the lead truck tomorrow. Radcliffe's mother, Pat, will also be in town. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 12 months ago, missing the trip to New York and telling her daughter on her return to England.

"It's a relief to have her coming here and looking so well," Radcliffe said. "She's feeling very good. That's the main thing."

Long and winding road: Radcliffe's battle for fitness

*17 JANUARY 2007

Gives birth to daughter Isla, her first child, at Princess Grace Hospital in Monaco.

*2 SEPTEMBER

Misses World Championships in Osaka, with a stress fracture in her lower back.

*30 SEPTEMBER

Makes comeback in the Great North Run half marathon, finishing second.

*4 NOVEMBER

Wins the New York Marathon in her first such event since the 2005 World Championships.

*6 MARCH 2008

Withdraws from London Marathon with a toe injury.

*17 AUGUST

Recovers from fractured left femur to race in Beijing Olympics (left), but fails to keep pace with the leaders and finishes in 23rd.

*MARCH 2009

Undergoes operation to remove a bunion, after again pulling out of the London Marathon.

*AUGUST 2009

Wins New York half marathon, but is not fit enough to run in World Championships in Berlin.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
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

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star