It doesn’t always have to be about me. And even though I just ran a race (two actually), all this means nothing compared to what I want to tell you today. I might like to think I’ve inspired one or two people through my endless chattering about running or through this blog… this woman inspired thousands and thousands of people. And today, she ran her last Marathon as an elite runner.
I guess you have to be somewhat into athletics to know Paula, but to me, Paula seems to have been around for as long as I can remember. The day I started doing athletics myself, Paula was already there, at the top, competing with the best. I was 9 and I thought Paula was funny. A lot of people thought Paula was funny. She had a very funny way of “bopping” her head when she went in her “red zone”.
We would laugh. Imitate her at times. Paula would win the race and take home the golden medal and we’d stay behind like fools. Paula was a winner. In a sport dominated by the African continent when it came to men, studies showing that the ratios of the African people gave them an advantage over the Caucasian people, Paula refused to give in.
In 2002, Paula switched to the Marathon. London was her first and she won it with a new course record. Later that year, she head-bopped herself towards a new world record in Chicago. And then, in 2003, she won London again, this time in 2.15.25. A record that still stands to this very day, over 12 years later. This record was and, to me, still is, out of this world. To give you an idea: The difference between male & female times is usually around 10-12%. When Paula set her record back in 2003, the Male record was 2:04:55… an 8.4% gap. It wasn’t until last year when Kimeto set the record to 2:02:57 that the gap went to the positive side of 10% again (10.2). Still, no women is getting anywhere near that 2.15.25 time at the moment. I’m sure you’re just as amazed by these impressive numbers as I am and, if you are, you might want to close your mouth now and take a napkin. You’re welcome.
Anyway, I could go on and on, but what I really want to say, and what the promo guys always manage to say just a bit better, is: thank you, Paula!