Sexism in Athletics: Paula Radcliffe

Paula Radcliffe with her Marathon World Record time: 2.15.25

Paula Radcliffe finishing the 2003 London Marathon where she set her world record

Paula with her child. She is married to her Coach and former athlete, Gary Lough and has two beautiful children!

37 year-old British world record holder Paula Radcliffe (for the 42.195 km) has won the London Marathon thrice, the New York Marathon twice, and the Chicago Marathon once.  A be-medalled British long distance runner, she has won numerous golds, silvers and bronze medals through the years for 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m events as well.  Every female runner should know this woman, especially if said runner runs long distance events and road races.

As a Fierce Female Athlete, it saddens and infuriates me to hear this news I am about to share with you.  I was supposed to do a Fierce Female Athlete feature on Paula Radcliffe sometime next month, but I guess this news has preempted me.

See ESPN article here.

The Marathon World Record of Paula Radcliffe (2 hrs, 15 mins, 25 secs) is now invalid, because it was set during a mixed (male and female) race, the London Marathon in April 2003.  The new rule was recently decided upon by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations).  The IAAF would like to “discourage male pacemakers from helping women to achieve quicker times.”

Taken from the ESPN article:

World Major Marathons (WMM) and the Association of International Marathons (AIMS) issued a joint statement calling the decision “unfair” and “confusing”

“The vast majority of women’s road races throughout the world are held in mixed conditions,” said the statement. “[And] the current situation where the fastest time is not now recognised as a record is confusing and unfair and does not respect the history of our sport.”

Here’s the new rule:  page 232 of the IAAF Competition Rules 2010 2011 (Thanks for the link, Joboy Quintos!)

The big question is:  How about Haile Gebrselassie‘s marathon world record (2 hrs, 3 mins, 59 secs)? He set it at a mixed race too–the BMW Berlin Marathon in September 2008!  Both men AND women were present at the race.  It’s only fair to invalidate Gebrselassie’s world record too.  I’m just sayin’ folks!

Paula runs faster than majority of the serious male marathoners out there.  She’s more likely the female pacemaker who is helping men run quicker times. Hahahahaha!

Paula for Nike

The 2008 New York City marathon---Paula is always at the front of the lead pack. Hot on her heels is rival Kara Goucher.

On the bright side, Paula is STILL the world record holder for the marathon, because her second fastest time is still faster than all the other female marathoners: 2 hrs, 17 mins, 42 seconds at the 2005 London Marathon.  Faster than majority of the men in the world!  You go girl!

So since Paula is a Nike endorser, maybe she can set her world records at the Nike Women’s Marathon instead!  Well, not really, since the event is open to men as well.

October 16, 2011 in San Francisco! I'll do this race someday, I promise!

Nike Women's Marathon

“Now on its eleventh year, the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco is an event attended by around 20,000 women (men can come too!).  The Nike Women’s Marathon is a three-day event.  The Expotique has activities such as fashion shows, running gait analysis, raffles, a ladies’ night, inspirational talks, sports bra fittings (yay!), and a techno hub to update friends on social networks about breaking one’s PR or how the weather was during the 21k race or whatever else.  One of the biggest things that draw women to the event is the Tiffany necklace giveaway, which is handed to them at the finish line by San Francisco firefighters.” (Note: I totally copy-pasted this from my thesis. Sorry, LOL!  Found this while I was doing research for my thesis and I really wanted to share with everyone how amazeballs it is!)

Hello, San Francisco firefighters!!! I'll take one of you, errrr.....I mean one of the Tiffany necklaces!! hehe

Some of the Tiffany necklaces they’ve given away…I want one!  Will run for bling!

I really wanna do this race someday!  A must-do race for every fierce female athlete!

Back to Paula Radcliffe, she’s been training so that she can be in top fighting form for the London 2012 Olympics.  If you didn’t know, she suffered a calf injury in January this year from a dog bite.  Yikes.

Miss Paula will be running alongside fellow record-holder Haile at the BMW Berlin Marathon this weekend (September 25, 2011) to qualify for the Olympics.  Trivia: This is only the third race wherein the two record-holders will be running together.  Coolness!

Paula is my favorite female long-distance runner.  She’s one of those super famous track athletes who tweet you back (like sprinter Allyson Felix).  She is to the marathon world what Madonna is to the pop music scene.  She told me she likes my running outfit in my Twitter profile pic a few months back.  I DIED.

Follow Paula on Twitter here.

Some Paula Radcliffe wallpapers for the fangirl/fanboy in you:


  1. Laura said:

    I see what they are trying to say about male pacers, but the fact is that she still ran it. If pacing is such an issue, they should ban rabbits from all races.

    Even if she ran the race being chased by a lunatic with a shotgun with a rabid tiger on a leash, it should still count.

    • Hey Laura! You do have a point. I hope the IAAF makes the rules clearer AND FAIRER for both the male and female marathon events.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: