Paula Radcliffe yesterday played down her chance of bettering the world marathon best in her second race over the distance in Chicago on Sunday.
The 28-year-old Bedford athlete, who won her debut marathon in London six months ago in 2hr 18min 56sec, just nine seconds off the world best set by Kenya's Catherine Ndereba, spoke cautiously about the likely weather for a race that will include numerous leading athletes, including Ndereba.
"Strong wind and rain is expected," she said. "That doesn't suit me and won't help as I always like to run fast. The most important thing will be winning and I'm not making any specific attempt on the world record."
Radcliffe added that she had had to take two days out of training after slipping on her hotel bathroom floor and injuring a tendon on the night before the Nike 10km London Run almost a fortnight ago. She nevertheless managed to set a European record for the distance in that event and says she is in good shape after spending 11 days in Limerick at the physiotherapy practice of Ger Hartmann.
"Things have been going really well and I am ready to run," she said. "I had the same preparation before the London race and it worked well for me there."
The British runner is not afraid of bad weather. She has spent many years churning through the mud of traditional cross-country courses to good effect, and adverse conditions are more likely to have adverse effects on some of her close competitors.
But bad luck with the elements could counteract the natural advantages of Chicago's flat, winding course – the same course on which Ndereba, who benefited from a mixed race, become the second woman under 2hr 20min last year.
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