After years of trying to mount a comeback from a foot injury, women's marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe will finally return, running April’s London Marathon as the final race of her career.
The 41-year-old Radcliffe set the world record of 2 hours, 15 minutes, 25 seconds in London in 2003, and last competed in at the 2011 Berlin Marathon.
“We are absolutely thrilled that Paula has chosen London for her final marathon and we know the British crowds will be out in force to celebrate her extraordinary career,” race director Hugh Brasher said in a news release.
Radcliffe was not included in the list of elite athletes released by race organizers, and will announce her intentions for the race on Jan. 30. She told ESPN.com in November that she thought about running the New York City Marathon in a non-competitive capacity, so she might not be racing for the victory in London.
Radcliffe returned to racing with a third-place finish at the Worcester City 10K race last September. Her previous race was a 2012 half-marathon in Vienna before a foot injury kept her from competing at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Among the other elite women announced for London are 2014 champion Edna Kiplagat and runner-up Florence Kiplagat; 2014 New York City Marathon champion Mary Keitany, seeking her third London victory (something accomplished by only Radcliffe and two others); and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo, who is aiming for redemption after dropping out of last year’s race around the 25K mark.
Here’s a look at Paula Radcliffe and recent marathon history by the numbers:
10 -- Number of times women have run under 2:19 since Radcliffe’s last marathon, in Berlin in 2011. She has accomplished the feat four times in her career.
2 -- Number of times the men’s marathon world record has been broken since the 2011 Berlin Marathon.
3 -- Victories in London by Radcliffe. Her winning times are the first (2:15:25, 2003), third (2:17:42, 2005) and sixth (2:18:56, 2002) fastest times in history.
3:12 -- Difference between the fastest marathon run during Radcliffe’s absence (Mary Keitany’s 2012 London victory) and her 2:15:25 record run in '03.
5:29 -- Difference between the personal best (2:21:14) of Shalane Flanagan, currently the top American female marathoner, and Radcliffe's record. Some perspective on how fast and dominant Radcliffe was when healthy.
10 -- Years since Radcliffe last ran the London Marathon, in a winning time of 2:17:42 in '05.
10 -- Months difference in age between between 41-year-old Deena Kastor (Feb. 14, 1973) and Radcliffe (Dec. 17, 1973). Kastor ran 2:33:18 in windy and cold conditions at the New York City Marathon in November.
14 --Place by Emma Stepto at the 2014 London Marathon at the age of 44.
1,309 -- Number of days between Radcliffe’s finish in Berlin and her April 26 start in London.