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This appeared in the Time of London. Perhaps Hugh can comment. Looks like Pete, et al will be doing a good deal of riding for next year's pre-validation ride.

Radcliffe refuses to include London as matter of course
By David Powell, Athletics Correspondent

THE Flora London Marathon has announced its most significant course change for 11 years, making it, in the opinion of David Bedford, the event director, up to a minute faster for the elite competitors and two minutes quicker for the average fun runner.
Despite the change, though, which sees the removal of the famous cobbled section close to the Tower of London, a women’s world record could be a long time coming.

Paula Radcliffe insisted yesterday that she was no nearer to knowing whether she would run a spring marathon and, if she does, whether it would be in London or Boston. Bedford, in the meantime, said he was convinced that, should Radcliffe opt for a marathon in April, she would choose London. What he is not convinced about is Radcliffe’s prospects of breaking her world record.

It was in London last year that Radcliffe recorded 2hr 15min 25sec, almost two minutes quicker than the world record she had set in Chicago six months earlier. She has run more than three minutes faster than any other woman and Bedford takes the view that, while the masses can look forward to personal best times next year, Radcliffe’s record may last for another quarter of a century.

“I believe that we may not see anyone run faster than Paula’s time in the next 25 years,” Bedford, a former 10,000 metres world record-holder, said. “I do not know whether we will see Paula in the same form as we saw last year. That may have been one of those runs that you see once in a lifetime.”

The 25th anniversary London Marathon on April 17 will be marked by the most notable course change since the finish was switched from Westminster Bridge to The Mall in 1994. The cobbles and the diversion around the Tower Hotel at 22 miles will be replaced by what marathon officials describe as “a fast stretch of road along the Highway and Tower Hill.”

The changes affect the Highway/Isle of Dogs loop between 13 and 22 miles, which will now be run in an anticlockwise direction. “I believe that, for the front-runners, it is worth between 45 seconds and one minute, which means that, for the average fun runner, it is up to two minutes faster,” Bedford said. Not only have the cobbles gone, there are now 18 fewer turns that break a runner’s rhythm.

Romantics may argue that the loss of the cobbles removes part of the character of the course but, as Radcliffe said: “It hurts your legs.” Asked whether she welcomed the faster route, she appeared unimpressed. “It wasn’t slow before,” she said. The changes have been introduced not only for speed but for safety after the three leading men last April slipped in the wet on the brick paving around the Tower Hotel.
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