Radcliffe fosters marathon aim

Tomorrow's BUPA Great North Run may not hold the key to Paul Radcliffe's running career, but it could prove influential as she ponders on the best way of recovering from the bitter disappointment of finishing one place outside the medals in last month's Olympic 10,000 metres final.

Tomorrow's BUPA Great North Run may not hold the key to Paul Radcliffe's running career, but it could prove influential as she ponders on the best way of recovering from the bitter disappointment of finishing one place outside the medals in last month's Olympic 10,000 metres final.

Radcliffe admits she was desperately down about what happened in Stadium Australia, where she led for the majority of the race only to be out-sprinted in the final stages.

In tomorrow's race, a half marathon, she will take on the woman who finished one place behind her in Sydney, Tegla Loroupe, representing a first step back to international racing.

"If you let things get to you after disappointments like Sydney you might as well retire or step away from the distance," Radcliffe said yesterday. "I ran a Commonwealth record and felt I did it the best way possible."

Although Radcliffe has been asked many times since the Olympics when she intends to move up to the marathon, she is still proceeding cautiously, mindful of the fact that the transfer from track to road has not always worked smoothly, even for runners as accomplished as South African's former Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Elena Mayer, whose outstanding half-marathon form has yet to be replicated over the full distance.

Radcliffe, who finished third last year in an English record time of 69min 37sec, could have Grete Waitz's 12-year-old record of 68min 49sec within reach if she and the Kenyan push each other.

A strong men's field could see a winning time close to 60 minutes, which would be the fastest seen in this country. British hopes lie with Karl Keska who finished eighth in the Olympic 10,000m final, in a personal best of 27min 44.09sec.

But if Keska is to become the first Briton to win this event since Steve Kenyon in 1985, he will have to overcome a field which includes two men who have won the London Marathon three times - Antonio Pinto of Portugal and Mexico's Dionicio Ceron. Ronaldo da Costa, Brazil's former world marathon record-holder will also be running, as will the defending champion, John Mutai, of Kenya.

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