As she is squaring up for one of the toughest tests of her career, Paula Radcliffe has tasted an unexpected disappointment at the news that her world record of 2h15:25 set in London in 2003 will be no longer standing as such according to the new move and criteria thereof of IAAF on road racing, which rules that only performances from all-female competitions will be acknowledged henceforth.

Paula Radcliffe sets an extraterrestrial 2h15:25 world record in London 2003 – how can one knock such a performance off the limelight?

While that makes sense with regard to track racing, how fair is it really on the part of the world’s athletics governing body to very much put everything into the same kettle without taking into account the individualities and background of women’s road racing? Further, what a mess is to be so unnecessarily and unfairly brought about globewide when a large amount of area and national marks will be taken down.

Let alone the sense of injustice towards greats like Joan Benoit, late Grete Waitz and Ingrid Kristiansen who are likely to figure only on their major championships performances in the revamped official lists under the new regulations. Is it really what they deserve for what they have put into the sport?

For the best part of history, organisers held women road races along with men’s so it wasn’t a case of option to obtain a faster time but rather a matter of contemporary event set-up and way of things. Women didn’t choose to run in mixed races as it can happen on the track and their times were perfectly recognized. And still many events are held in such conditions nowadays.

Now, a common feature that runs through very much every legislation worldwide is that every case is judged on the laws and regulations that were in place at the time it came about, not retrospectively. Which is what is fair. IAAF instead have shown no consideration in that aspect and again come to stretch their authority at the expense of the athletes, current and past. They keep enforcing rules without asking anyone directly interested which is becoming annoying, such as the new false-start rule in the sprints that blew up in their faces in Daegu.But again, they won’t come out to admit they have messed up.

Radcliffe is still going to remain the world record holder as her time of 2h17:42, set also in London in 2005, will stand as a new ultimate mark but it won’t be the same. It’s as though taking something special away from her athletic greatness when the powers that be intend to set that breathtaking feat aside so thoughtlessly, one of the beacons and best ever performances witnessed in athletics.

There should be stressed, however, that neither the World Major Marathons nor Association of International Marathons have endorsed the new changes calling the new rule ‘unfair’ and stating that they will keep acknowledging both types of performances, mixed and all-female, until the matter is discussed with IAAF.

BBC Report

Berlin Marathon – a race of no turning back

On the competitive end, Radcliffe is faced with one of the most demanding challenges of her career as she is racing for the first time over a marathon in nearly two years in the setting of a super fast course in Berlin on Sunday with two specific goals in her mind, which she needs to balance properly into the race so that she comes off with flying colours. First, she has got to land a qualifying time and get that out of the way so that she can build up to London without distractions of any kind, and second, she needs to put in a competitive showing to let her rivals know that she is still around and is not to be discounted by any means, which may prove the hardest part.

Her return to racing over nearly four months ago at the BUPA London 10km was a disheartening spectacle so a big question mark will hang around over her form until the race starts hitting high gears and the pressure mounts in the late stages. She is vastly experienced and her mentality has never been an issue but even she may not know how much ground she has made since late May. Therefore, she might need to be a bit more conservative in her approach and keep leaning slightly more towards a solid time rather than chasing hard a top three placing as far as the final fourth of the distance; and once there she could go for more if she’s got enough left in the tank. A time around, say. 2h25 would be a solid comeback and nothing could be ruled out as concerns her last Olympic challenge, especially with 10 months yet to spare on London given her class.