The sub-two-hour marathon is one of the last great barriers in athletics – but perhaps we already have its equivalent in Radcliffe’s longstanding world record
Sometimes in sport, an athlete does something so crazy and wonderful it causes you to reconsider the nature of the sport itself. On 13 April, 2003, Paula Radcliffe gave us such a moment, when she won the London Marathon in two hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds. Her time was not only a massive world record, beating her own previous world record of 2:17:18, which she set the previous October in Chicago, but it moved her three minutes and 22 seconds ahead of the next fastest female marathoner in the world, Catherine Ndereba. In the professional marathon, in the modern era, that distance is not a gap: it’s a canyon.