NEW YORK (Reuters) - World record holder Paula Radcliffe says she could break the course record in Sunday’s New York City Marathon.
The 35-year-old Briton, seeking her fourth win in the 40th edition of the race, told reporters on Friday she was in good shape after a troublesome year which included foot surgery, hamstring problems and tonsillitis.
“I believe the course record can be beaten and I can run faster but the main objective is to win the race,” said the defending champion.
Radcliffe, who set the world record of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds at the 2003 London Marathon, will take aim at Kenyan Margaret Okayo’s 2003 New York mark of 2:22:31.
The Englishwoman will be running her first marathon since having surgery to remove a bunion in March.
Radcliffe won the New York half-marathon in August but a week later had to withdraw from the world championships in Berlin due to hamstring trouble and a lack of preparation.
She then withdrew from the world half-marathon championships in England this month due to tonsillitis.
Radcliffe, who has been training at altitude in France, said her quads were stronger than they had been for a while and she had put in enough training to warrant a good performance.
“I am confident I have the good long runs that I need behind me for the marathon,” she said.
Radcliffe, who also won the New York Marathon in 2004 and 2007, is clear favorite on Sunday after Russia’s Tatyana Petrova and Ethiopia’s Dire Tune pulled out.
“I still feel it’s a strong field,” said the Englishwoman, pointing to Boston Marathon champion Salina Kosgei of Kenya. “You have to always be prepared for the new person.
“It’s (often) about how I feel on the day. It’s very much about sticking to my race plan.”
Top contenders in the men’s field include Morocco’s twice world champion Jaouad Gharib and Brazilian Marilson Gomes dos Santos, who has twice won the race that snakes through the city’s five boroughs and finishes in Manhattan’s Central Park.
Four-times Boston champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya is another of the pre-race favorites while Americans are pinning their hopes on 27-year-old Ryan Hall.
Editing by Tony Jimenez