Paula Radcliffe has described how close she got to missing her London Marathon farewell. The athlete, 41, who still holds the marathon world record she set in London in 2003, admitted on 22 April that she feared a foot injury sustained while training in Kenya would rule her out of the race.
"My foot wasn't moving properly and the trails are very rocky as well out there," she said. "I just tweaked my Achilles and I didn't think it was that big a deal at first and the actual tendon itself was fine, it was just inflammation around there, and it took about six weeks to let it settle down.
"I've been able to run now every day since Easter weekend, so not the ideal preparation, but at least I feel now I'm going in healthy, I'm going in unfit and unprepared for a marathon, but I feel my body can remember once it's out there how it's supposed to do it."
Radcliffe, a three-time winner of the race, which takes place on 26 April, says she plans to enjoy herself running behind the elite runners, including 2014 champion Edna Kiplagat and fellow Kenyan and 2013 winner Priscah Jeptoo.
Her time of 2.15:25 has stood now for 12 years but Radcliffe is convinced it will eventually be beaten.
"Obviously, I think all records are there to be beaten at some point," she said. "I don't want it to be, but it will be because that's the nature of the sport, it is moving on the whole time and I don't think that I particularly had any more talent than anybody else. Certainly there are people around now who've probably got more talent."
After a 25-year career that has also included three New York Marathons, one Chicago Marathon and world championships in marathon, half marathon and cross country, Radcliffe is in a special position to assess what makes marathon running unique.
"That is the attraction of the marathon," she said. "It is you against the distance, against the body, against hitting the wall, it's all of those things coming together, I think that's why so many people when they cross that finish line on Sunday, they should be feeling really proud of themselves and they have achieved that accomplishment of finishing the marathon, of getting through it. It is a challenge, it's something that brings people together and makes it special."
Radcliffe will be the first recipient of the London Marathon lifetime achievement award.