A list of blond people born on this date who have broken 2:25 in the marathon and taken dumps during their races

I know of two, but there’s only one who matters. Paula Radcliffe, the best marathon runner in history, turns 35 today.
The holder of an otherworldly world record of 2:15:25 (Flora London, 2003), Radcliffe also holds the world record for a 10K road race (30:21). (She has also run a half-marathon in 1:05:40, unratifiable as world best because it was run on a point-to-point course with a net elevation loss.) She has won the London Marathon three times, including a 2:17:42 in 2005 that stands as the fastest time ever in a women’s-only race–a performance she managed despite stopping to pinch a loaf late in the race, something I did in my fastest marathon (2:24:17) and without the benefit of TV cameras widely broadcasting the event. She has also claimed three New York City Marathon wins (2004, 2007, and 2008) and won the World Championship in Helsinki in 2005 in a championship-record time of 2:20:57. She is also a two-time World Cross Country champion, a discipline she favored before moving to the marathon in 2002.
Her career has been marred only by a lack of success at the Olympics. In 2004, she led most of the way in Athens before being overtaken past the 20-mile mark and, in a grimly iconic moment, retiring to curbside, face in hands, with lass than four miles left. In this year’s Games in Beijing, Radcliffe went in severely undertrained owing to injuries in the months beforehand and wound up 23rd.
The 5′ 8″ Radcliffe’s ungainly, head-bobbing, arms-thrashing style has only added to her popularity, as it is much easier for most runners to relate to someone who appears to be less than ultra-efficient. A mother as of the spring of 2007, she is probably the most treasured woman athlete in U.K. history and, as evidenced by her win in New York last month, still has plenty of fire left.

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  1. #1 by Markk on December 17, 2008 - 11:47 am

    So what is the age curve for marathons, in terms of ability? I seem to have read that 35 to 40 might actually be pretty good physically, but I can’t find it now. I would love to know what the above 50 and above 60 and even above 70 records have been and how they are changing. It seems like the young men are getting somewhat close to the limit but that we are still in freefall in times for “seniors” of both sexes. I see guys and women in their late 60’s at local races that can run pretty darn fast still.

  2. #2 by chris on December 17, 2008 - 11:50 am

    Let’s not ruin it by putting ‘best marathon runner in history’ in there.

  3. #3 by Kevin Beck on December 17, 2008 - 11:55 am

    “Let’s not ruin it by putting ‘best marathon runner in history’ in there.”
    OK, I’ll go with “most dominant.” There are no sane arguments to the contrary for either women or men–in her better races, rarely has anyone even been within minutes of her. The Olympics is the only arena in which she has fallen short and she easily could have skipped this year’s Games without resorting to bad excuses.

  4. #4 by Julie on December 17, 2008 - 1:12 pm

    I love Paula, but I wish she had skipped Beijing and given Hayley Haining a chance to run well for Britain.

  5. #5 by Kevin Beck on December 17, 2008 - 1:18 pm

    I think that had she won in Athens, she would not have elected to run in Beijing given her physical circumstances. But given that she felt the enormous weight of achieving retribution, there was no way she was not going to at least show up for these recent Olympics unless she was practically in a wheelchair.
    The question now is whether she’ll still be competing at a high level in 2012, when the Olympics are in her home country. I’m betting she’ll be there, and as one of the favorites.

  6. #6 by rBST on December 17, 2008 - 2:47 pm

    Huh, I had no idea that I shared a birthday with Paula.

  7. #7 by rBST on December 17, 2008 - 2:58 pm

    Happy birthday, Kevin.

  8. #8 by chris on December 18, 2008 - 12:36 pm

    I think there are strong arguments for Bikila, Geb, or even Lel to fit in that throne as well. On the women’s side are we already forgetting Waitz? Dominant? How about 9 NYM wins? Lowered the world record by 9 minutes, plus she has an Olympic medal.

  9. #9 by KJS on December 20, 2008 - 9:28 am

    Here’s a description directly from the author describing his own “dump-taking while PR-ing in a marathon” experience.
    “35K in 1:58:40. The crowds grew thicker and more flamboyant; the personally directed shouts from the sidewalks flew toward me as before. Twenty-two miles in a shade over two hours even and I had reached Cleveland Circle. Whether by playful fate or playful coincidence, I knew as I spotted the lone portable toilet to my right as I rounded the turn onto Beacon Street that I could no longer defer relieving myself, and that I would be forced to do so with several hundred people more or less watching. As I shot into the port-a-john, I swear the cheers doubled in volume. Great.
    I won’t delve into the unnecessary details of my communion with the port-a-john, but I believe I was in and out in about forty-five seconds. I recall no toilet paper, but had there been any, I would have flown out of that foul little edifice trailing it behind me in place of the Superman cape the gathered throng (whose cheers had now surely trebled in volume) evidently expected me to have donned.” (kemibe.com c. 2001)

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