Paula Radcliffe will next week travel to Addis Ababa as a guest of the 2009 Great Ethiopian Run 10km which takes place on Sunday 22nd November 2009 with a record field of 33,000 participants. It will be Radcliffe’s first visit to Ethiopia and, as well as supporting the race, the world’s fastest ever female marathon runner will have an opportunity to renew friendships with many Ethiopian athletes including Derartu Tulu and Gete Wami against whom she has competed during her 17-year international career.
Radcliffe who finished 4th in the 2009 ING New York City Marathon earlier this month is one of the few athletes from outside Ethiopia well-known to the Ethiopian public. Her marathon world record of 2:15:25 set at the 2003 London Marathon is more than five minutes faster than any Ethiopian female athlete has run for the distance and her string of eight marathon victories in London, Chicago and New York have won her plenty of admirers in Ethiopia. The announcement of her presence at Ethiopia’s annual running festival has already sent ripples of excitement through the athletics community in Ethiopia.
Gebrselassie who has been instrumental in the race’s success and development since its inception in 2001 said: “Paula’s coming here is fantastic news. She is a great athlete and a wonderful person. We want to give her a great experience of the race and of the running scene in Addis Ababa.”
Race Director Richard Nerurkar expressed his delight at Radcliffe’s trip to Ethiopia by saying: “For many years Paula has promised that she would one day come to the race. She is so well-known to the Ethiopian public who will be so excited to see her here for the race. I’m sure that Paula will also enjoy the chance to meet so many of her Ethiopian athlete friends in their home city.”
The 33,000 participants who have registered for the 9th edition of the 10km race include a record number of more than 200 participants from abroad. Since 2002 the race has been the biggest on the African continent by participant numbers and with the toughest elite field for any African road race. Radcliffe is likely to act as race starter alongside Haile Gebrselassie and Derartu Tulu on the morning of the race.
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