Paula Radcliffe smashed the women’s world record at the London Marathon on April 13, 2003.

The British star was already the record holder having set a new best of two hours, 17 minutes and 18 seconds in Chicago in 2002 – her first year stepping up to the distance.

She had also won the London Marathon in 2002 in a record time for a women’s only race but wanted to push the boundaries by using male pacemakers.

Paula Radcliffe poses with her world record time
Paula Radcliffe poses with her world record time (Rebecca Naden/PA)

The tactic earned her criticism but Radcliffe seized her opportunity spectacularly by completing the course in 2hrs 15mins 25secs, dominating the race from start to finish.

Radcliffe, then 29, said: “Everyone said that London could not be a fast course. But I knew from last year it was.

“We got a good day, and the wind was behind us more than it was in front – and we have proved it is a fast course.

“I was trying to stay relaxed until halfway and then just keep it going. But it was really tough in the last five (miles).

“There was a lot of pressure, and people were talking about the times I was going to run.

“I went through halfway way faster than I had planned to even if I felt good. But I thought, ‘You’ve committed, so you just have to hold it’.”

Radcliffe held the record until 2019, when Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei ran a blistering time of 2:14:04 at the Chicago Marathon.