22nd Berliner Wasserbetriebe 5 x 5 km TEAM-Relay from 7 until 9 June 2023

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Paula ready to race in Euro-Cup despite Eugene fall


Paula Radcliffe has informed the British selectors if they want her to run over 5000 metres in the Spar European Cup later this month in Portugal, she is available. Radcliffe has always insisted if fully fit, she would ask to be picked for the Norwich Union GB side which will be attempting to regain its Super League status after the embarassment of being relegated a year ago.   

Too many people in the race

Now Radcliffe, after surviving a scary bit of rough and tumble over 1500 metres in Saturday's Prefontaine Grand Prix Classic meeting in Eugene, believes she can do herself justice in Leiria on June 18-19. "I was always going to do it if I was in shape," said Radcliffe,  who was amongst the seven contestants who fell when the US meeting promoters overloaded Saturday's race with 17 runners.

"Given how that went today, I hope I'll be in shape to run a decent 5000 in the European Cup," added Radcliffe, racing on the track for the first time since failing to finish in the Olympic 10000m in Athens last summer. Radcliffe who finished sixth in a race won by little known American Christin Wurth, said: "I've  got to ring them after this race and let them know how it went. They know I'm trying to be available - although they haven't asked the 100 per cent question yet."  

Back to training 

Then Radcliffe who is returning direct from the USA to her training base at Font Romeau in the French Pyrenees, said: "I want to do it, it's only a couple of weeks away so I need to go back and put in some good training." Radcliffe in Eugene running her first metric mile for four years and hoping to smash her personal best of 4:05:37 had no problems coping with a fast first 400 metres.

Then everything went pear-shaped when a massive rough-and-tumble occurred with just over 800 metres of the race remaining. The decrease in pace after the quick opener, saw the contestants - including the world marathon record holder  -  falling to the floor as if they were skittles in a ten-pin bowling alley. Fortunately Radcliffe managed to pick herself up instantly, and then bravely gave chase and fought herself back into the pack after losing 30 metres because of the incident.

But pre-race favourite Tatyana Tomashova wasn't so fortunate. The Olympic silver medallist was  left lying on the floor as opponents desperately tried to stay on their feet and jumping over hthe Russian's prostrate body. Jolanda Ceplak the race winner two years ago fared worse than anyone. Slovenia's Olympic 800m bronze medallist, fell on the rail on the inside of the track, damaging her right hip. "Too many -  yes," said Radcliffe about the size of the field. "I said that when I saw the list. They were probably banking on people dropping out."

Radcliffe pissed off 

Radcliffe who clocked a time of 4:13.13, was frustrated that a chance to lower her 1500m best, had finished in disaster after the pile up. She fumed: "I'm pissed off. Everything was going alright after a fast first lap. I thought I had missed it and would be alright, but then I found myself sprawling. I immediately jumped up and started chasing the pack," she added, despite incurring minor bruising to both knees and cuts on her hands.

Radcliffe despite the chaos where four of the seven who fell, failed to continue, admits she wouldn't mind racing again over the distance. The 5000m and 10000m track specialist tackled the shorter distance, with just over three weeks preparation for the race, after resting following her third success in April's Flora London Marathon.

Radcliffe admitted: "I knew this was cutting it really fine, but then I don't get the chance to do many 1500 metres. The problem is, you can't run a good 1500m when you're running 145 miles a week," an indication that the World Championships marathon for August for which she already been chosen, is being  targeted.

But Radcliffe still hasn't ruled out competing over 10000m where her victory in the 2002 European Championships saw her in Munich, achieve the world's second fastest-ever time of 30:01.09. She said: "I'm just back into two hour runs in my marathon training so I'm going to see how that goes. The problem is that I have to make the decision."

European Cup, World Championships and...? 

Her future track schedule will depend on that choice, although at the moment she is definitely planning competing in the European Cup, the World Championships and probably just one other track race. "It depends which event I go for," said the undecided superstar. "If I go for the 10000, I'll race more on the track but if I go for the marathon it will be just one more."

David Martin 

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