Radcliffe surpasses McColgan's mark

As expected, Paula Radcliffe made an impact in yesterday's BUPA Great North Run. But even she could not have forecast its extent as she completed what was only her second half-marathon in a time of 67min 07sec, thus depriving Scotland's Liz McColgan of the European record she set eight years ago. Radcliffe, in her first outing since her crushing failure to win a medal in the Olympic 10,000 metres final, lived up to her stated intention of putting all that disappointment behind her as she ran away from a field headed by the woman who had finished one place behind her in Sydney, Tegla Loroupe.

As expected, Paula Radcliffe made an impact in yesterday's BUPA Great North Run. But even she could not have forecast its extent as she completed what was only her second half-marathon in a time of 67min 07sec, thus depriving Scotland's Liz McColgan of the European record she set eight years ago. Radcliffe, in her first outing since her crushing failure to win a medal in the Olympic 10,000 metres final, lived up to her stated intention of putting all that disappointment behind her as she ran away from a field headed by the woman who had finished one place behind her in Sydney, Tegla Loroupe.

The Kenyan, who was 13th in the Olympic marathon, ended up three minutes adrift of Radcliffe after dropping off the pace around the five-mile mark.

"It wasn't so much a case of me putting on the pressure as Tegla just starting to struggle," Radcliffe said afterwards. "When I realised she was dropping away I did increase the pace. With two miles left I finally realised the possibility of smashing Liz's mark was within my reach. It was hard work and it hurt, but the crowd were marvellous as they cheered me over the final mile."

Before the race Radcliffe - who finished third in this event last year in what was her first half-marathon - had Grete Waitz's 12-year-old course record of 68min 49sec in her sights, but her finishing surge saw her surpass the mark McColgan set in Tokyo by four seconds.

Having overtaken the Scotswoman's records at 10,000m and half-marathon, Radcliffe's logical progression should see her challenging the marathon times set by McColgan, who won the London Marathon in 1996. But that attempt is likely to come later rather than sooner. Although the 27-year-old Bedford athlete had acknowledged that yesterday's race would be a factor in the future course of her career, she is in no hurry to start running twice the distance. "Because I can run fast here doesn't mean I will run fast in a marathon," she said. "I'll run one in the next couple of years but there's no rush to do so."

The men's race, featuring two men who had won the London Marathon three times - Dionicio Ceron and Antonio Pinto -- as well as the former marathon world-record holder Ronaldo da Costa, eventually offered an opportunity for two relative unknowns to assume a high profile. The race was won by the 18-year-old Tanzanian Faustin Baha, whose blistering first mile of 4min 18sec propelled him into a lead he never lost. "I went out too fast because I was trying to beat the 60- minute target," Baha said. But he was nevertheless satisfied with a winning time of 61.57.

Equally happy, in second place, was Andy Coleman, an Enfield runner taking part in his first half-marathon, who overtook the defending champion, John Mutai of Kenya, over the final mile. "The opportunity was there to make my name and I took it," said Coleman, who hopes to run at the World Marathon Championships five years from now when they will be held near his home at Picket's Lock.

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