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New World Record in Marathon Expected April in London

Posted February. 25, 2003 22:28,   


Getting shorter and shorter, even down to a record of 2 hours, 17 minutes and 18 seconds.

Female marathoners around the world are on a fast track. For the past four years, they have shortened the world record by 3 minutes and 29 seconds. Unsatisfied with the feat, they are now "threatening" to break into the "2 hour and 15 minute" wall, which is believed impossible by most experts.

This year, the trend is continuing, being led by Paula Redcliff (29, UK). She recorded 30`21" in the 10km marathon race, which took place in Puerto Rico on Sunday, breaking the world record made last year by 8 seconds.

Redcliff made another world record in the full course race last October. In the Chicago Marathon, upon her second trial at the full course, she finished it up for 2 hours, 17 minutes and 18 seconds, making her name recognized by the world. First, she won the London Marathon in last April, recording 2 hours, 18 minutes and 56 seconds. The achievement came in only 6 months after she first started it.

She is expected to further her winning trend in the upcoming London Marathon scheduled for April 13th. The 10km marathon race served as a barometer of her performance in the upcoming London Marathon. Now, she is believed to break the world record yet again. After the race, she confidently said, "I feel much better than last year. I will defense my championship in the upcoming London Marathon, and break the world record."

Redcliff stands 170cm and weighs 54kg, a little tall for a marathoner. She, however, started her career from the age of 11, and has built up speed in cross country and track and field. She has conquered all the cross country championships in Europe as well as in Britain. Above all, her last-minute spurt stands out. She has received a special weight-training from her coach Max Johns, which is believed to have worked out her remarkable spurt.

She is also unique in training style. She seldom runs the full course. She just concentrates on running 5km or 10 km. Aiming at the championship in the 2004 Athens Olympics, she plans not to run the full course after the London Marathon until the Olympics. In the upcoming World Championship in August, she intends to run 10,000m. She says, "To perform well in Athens, I have to make preparations, starting with short distances."

Catherine Ndereba of Kenya is the rival Redcliff herself deems hard to deal with. Ndereba first brought herself into the spotlight by winning the Berlin Marathon, breaking the world record set by a Japanese marathoner Naoko Takahashi only one week ago. Of course, Takahashi is one of the most powerful rivals to Redcliff.

Could it be possible for a new record to be set up this year, pulling it down to somewhere lower than the 2 hours and 15 minutes level?

Kwon Eun-joo holds South Korea`s record of 2 hours, 26 minutes and 12 seconds, a far cry from the world record.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com