Veteran Pavey aims to follow Radcliffe's long-distance route

It was in 1988 that Jo Pavey first made a mark on the national athletics scene. She was 14-year-old Jo Davis at the time.

Running for Devon at the English schools championships in Yeovil, she smashed the UK Under-15 record for the 1500 metres, clocking 4min 27.9sec. Eight places and 13sec behind her was a plucky girl from Bedfordshire by the name of Paula Radcliffe.

Twenty-three years on, the former teenage prodigy – now 37 and a mother – is getting ready to follow in the footsteps of Radcliffe. At 9am tomorrow Pavey sets off from Blackheath into virgin territory. It will be her first attempt at a marathon, the event in which Radcliffe, despite two Olympic disappointments, has become the leading lady of all time – with an untouchable world record of 2hr 15min 25sec, set on the streets of London in 2003.

Radcliffe is preparing for an autumn comeback in the marathon, following the birth of her second child, and has her sights on another shot at Olympic glory, this time on home ground. Pavey, already a three-time Olympian on the track, is also aiming for a spot on the British marathon team when the Games come to London next summer.

"That would be a dream," she said yesterday. "But there's a lot of good talent in the women's marathon in Britain. It's not a matter of just scraping the qualifying time because there are a lot of people who are going to be challenging for it.

"Like anyone else doing their first one, I am going into the unknown and I want to strike a balance between being cautious and being competitive. I'd like to think I could run two hours twenty-something. It's the best field that's ever been assembled for this race, with 13 women who have run quicker than 2hr 24min, so it's going to be a really hard race but it's also a great opportunity to run a good time."

The provisional British selection standard for the 2012 Olympic women's marathon is 2hr 31min, six minutes quicker than the qualifying time announced yesterday by the International Association of Athletics Federations. With a track pedigree that includes a Commonwealth 5,000m silver medal in 2006 and a fourth-placed finish in the 10,000m at the 2007 World Championships, Pavey would appear to have the potential to become – eventually, at least – only the third British woman to break 2hr 25min for the marathon.

Her debut at the 26.2-mile distance has been postponed for two years, because of pregnancy, illness and a broken toe. Still, the one-time teenage trailblazer arrives at the marathon with a deep sense of fulfilment, having given birth to a son, Jacob, 18 months ago.

"I remember training in South Africa, doing a really hard session where I just ran until I was lying on the floor," Pavey reflected. "I was thinking, 'What am I doing? I haven't got a child. This isn't the be-all and end-all of life.' I just felt like I needed to have a child because otherwise my life wouldn't be complete.

"Then, once I'd had Jacob, I felt really motivated, because I felt happier in life generally. And now, having the focus of a new event, my motivation is high."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration Engineer

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Logistics and Supply Chain

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...

Recruitment Genius: CNC Sheet Metal Worker / Fabricator

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working within the workshop of ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st / 2nd Line IT Support Engineer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist high tech compa...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral