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Radcliffe’s greatest adversary the weather – No redemption for Tergat

Radcliffe’s greatest adversary the weather – No redemption for Tergat
Sean Wallace-Jones

11 November 2000 – Veracruz, Mexico – Speaking on the eve of the 9th IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, Britain’s Paula Radcliffe says that her greatest adversary is likely to be the weather.

Radcliffe, who recently set a new European half marathon best in the Great North Run of 1:07:07, reckons that the high humidity in the early morning here (the women’s race starts at 8.00 am local time 1500 GMT) will be her toughest challenger.

"It can really be a problem for everyone," she asserted during the pre-race press conference today. "Nothing dehydrates you so quickly as the high humidity, so we will all have to be really careful and make sure that we drink a lot. It will be easier for the men starting later (9.30 am) because the sun will have burnt off some of the humidity"

A sentiment echoed by local favourite Adriana Fernandez: "It is a problem," said Fernandez," but it is also an advantage for we Mexicans. The Europeans are not really used to running in these temperatures, we are!"

Laying down the gauntlet? No worries as far as Radcliffe is concerned.

"I am not worried about the race. I have no plans to change my tactics. I really don’t think that there is anything to worry about here."

Confident talk coming from an athlete who, despite all the guts she shows in every race she runs, will be running just her third half marathon on Sunday.

"Of course, I still have to learn," she says, "but I think that the really strong runners are not here. Loroupe is not running, nor is Tulu, so I reckon I can just go out there and run my race."

Defending men’s champion Paul Tergat is, as usual, rather more unassuming in his predictions: "It is for sure going to be tough, because of the weather, but no competitions is easy.

"One thing is sure," he continues, "this will be no redemption for Sydney. If there is anything to redeem…

"This is a different race, with different pressures, but I am determined to win. Sydney was my last race on the track. I had decided this long before. I am not getting any younger and now I want to move on to other things and that for me means the challenge of the marathon."

Both Radcliffe and Tergat will be competing for the $40,000 first prize put up by the IAAF for both the men’s and the women’s race, and Kenya will be also targeting victory in the team competition.

Each competing country can enter five athletes and the sum of the three best placed athletes of each country determines victory in the team event.

Kenya will be seeking to recover the men’s team trophy that it has not won since 1997, with victory in the last two editions going to the South African teams, but the Kenyans will doubtless face strong competition from South Africa and from a strong Ethiopian contingent led by last year’s bronze medallist Tesfaye Jifar.

In the women’s team competition, the favourites must surely be the experienced Romanian team, featuring veteran competitiors Lidia Simon, Aline Tecuta and Cristiana Pomacu.

Kenya won the women’s team event in the last two editions, but it seems uncertain that they can repeat this performance with the relatively unseasoned team in Veracruz, led by Susan Chepkemei.

Japan will also be a strong contender here, with the women’s team led by Mizuki Noguchi, the silver medallist in Palermo last year.