Paula Radcliffe, who retired after running in the London Marathon on April 26, 2015, had the distinction of winning that race three times, in 2002, 2003 and 2005, the New York Marathon three times, in 2004, 2007 and 2008 and the Chicago Marathon once, in 2002. Indeed, when winning her second London Marathon in 2003, Radcliffe set a world record time of 2:15:25, which stood until 2019, when Kenyan athlete Brigid Kosgei set the current world record, 2:14:04, in the Chicago Marathon.
Born in Davenham, Cheshire on December 17, 1973, Radcliffe excelled at athletics at school, despite being diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma at the age of 14. However, it was not until her second year at Loughborough University, after she finished seventh in the 3,000 metres at the World Athletics Championships in Stuttgart, in 1993, that she seriously considered a career in athletics.
Fast forward to the early years of the twenty-first century and having finished fourth in the 10,000 metres at both the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and the 2001 World Athletics Championships in Edmonton, Radcliffe switched her attention to the marathon. She won at her first attempt, in the London Marathon in April, 2002 and the following October won the Chicago Marathon in a time of 2:17:18, thereby smashing the world record by almost a minute-and-a-half.
Radcliffe lowered the world record again at the London Marathon in 2003, winning in a time of 2:15:25 but, although starting favourite for the marathon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, dropped out of the race after 22 miles, having suffered an adverse reaction to anti-inflammatory medication. Nevertheless, she won her first New York Marathon a few months later and her third London Marathon the following year. After becoming a mother for the first time in 2007, Radcliffe won the New York Marathon again ten months later. Her training for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was compromised by a stress fracture of her left femur, but she recovered sufficiently to win her third New York Marathon later the same year.