Athletics: British legend Paula Radcliffe in Kenya

British's long distance runner Paula Radcliffe addressing press conference at EKA Hotel, Nairobi, Sunday, December 19, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Former women's world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe is glad to be the stroke that broke Kenya and Ethiopia dominance in the discipline in her days.

Radcliffe on Sunday revealed to Standard Sports at the Eka Hotel in Nairobi the secret behind her meteoric rise in the women's marathon that saw her set a record that lasted for 16 years.

"I had a great team behind my back that inspired me," she said.

"I broke into the senior ranks in 1992. I had a lot of European inspirations who motivated me.

"They showed me it was possible to compete with the Kenyans and Ethiopians, run well and win.

"While young Kenyan girls started the sport and believed they would dominate because everyone else was already doing so, to me the doors were already opened so I tried not to put a barrier on them."

Radcliffe believes hard work enabled her to get the best in athletics including setting the legendary 2:15:25 record which stood between 2003-2019.

The time was ultimately broken by Kenya's Brigid Kosgei.

"When I look back, I feel happy that I gave my one hundred per cent in those races. I'm also glad I played a huge part in the development of women's marathon race. Brigid had a great run breaking that record and this shows that women now believe they can, and their athletics standards have really improved," said Radcliffe while adding that improved new shoes have raised the standards of marathon running across the world.

Eka Hotel who are Standard Group partners will host Radcliffe stay both in Nairobi and in Eldoret where she will preside over an 80km (50mile) race, dubbed the Great Equator Relay on Friday.

"As Eka Hotel, we are glad to have hosted the largest contingent from the Standard Media Group during the recently held Standard County Golf Classic at the Eldoret Club," Tuva Khonde, Sales and Marketing Manager, Eka Hotel Nairobi, said.

"We are happy to have another opportunity to host one of the sports finest this week, both in our Nairobi and Eldoret facilities.

"We are hopeful the Great Equator Relay on Friday will be a great success."

Eldoret town is already getting ready for the race to be held on Christmas eve.

FILE: Paula Radcliffe in action [photo courtesy]

A sizable number of Kenyan athletics legends will be joining the former world marathon record holder and her family in the run that starts at the Equator in Timboroa, ending in a site where Shoe4Africa will be laying the foundation for a 152-bed pediatric cancer center.

According to organisers, the health facility will be the first-ever Children Cancer Hospital in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Radcliffe, whose daughter Isla was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 will be running 5km, according to a team of organisers led by former 3000m steeplechase world record holder Moses Kiptanui.

Kiptanui will also be running 5km in the relay.

Athletics stars such as Olympic 5000m bronze medalist Paul Chelimo as well as Haron Lagat, both from the US will run 10km.

Lagat runs for the US Army.

Former 800m world champion Janeth Jepkosgei will race in 2km.

Jepkosgei will be running alongside marathon legend Mary Keitany.

Steeplechase gold medalist (Barcelona 1992) Mathew Birir, Former London Marathon winner Emmanuel Mutai and former 800m Commonwealth champion Japheth Kimutai will also be in action in the Christmas eve charity race.

Kiptanui and other legends held a planning meeting in Eldoret town on Friday.

After the 50km charity relay, according to Shoe4Africa, Radcliffe’s daughter (Isla) will hold hands with another cancer patient, who is her age mate from Kenya before officially breaking ground for pediatric cancer hospital, together.

Shoe4Africa established the Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in 2015. It has also established six schools through athletics fundraising.

“I have run hundreds, but this one is more special, more meaningful, and impactful. I am participating in the race against pediatric cancers. In 2010, I ran from the shores of Mombasa to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money to build East & Central Africa’s 1st Public Children’s Hospital; we opened that hospital five years later and in seven years have served over 750,000 kids. Now, the second race begins!” Shoe4Africa CEO Toby Tansen said in a statement.

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