In short: very.
But here, in the first of a three-part series of blog posts that looks back on Paula Radcliffe’s career, I’ve expanded on that with 13 superlatives and statistical observations to help illustrate just how phenomenal Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 is.
1. Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 made her the fastest British marathon runner – man or woman – that year.
2. The fastest British man in 2003 was 16 seconds slower than Radcliffe.
3. In 2003, the year Radcliffe set her world record, only seven men from the USA – a nation of 290million at the time – ran faster than 2:15:25.
4. Radcliffe covered the second half in 1:07:23 (having already run 1:08:02 for the first half – no big deal). At the time, the world record for the individual half marathon was just 39 seconds quicker and only 10 other women had run faster than 1:07:23 for the distance.
5. Her first 30km was covered in a world record time of 1:36:36. And then she sped up. Her final 10km was her quickest of the race, covered in 31:52. Radcliffe aside, only 10 other women in the world that year ran faster in an individual 10km.
6. When Radcliffe set the world record, it was 3min 22sec faster than any other woman had achieved at the time. In the 12 years since then, the rest of the world’s female population has only improved by 10 seconds.
7. Percentage-wise, Radcliffe’s world record is 2.43% quicker than any other woman has managed. If a male marathon runner came along and went 2.43% quicker than the men’s world record, it would be 1:59:58.
8. Radcliffe’s margin of dominance over the next-best athlete in history in her event (2.43%) is the biggest in any running event, men’s or women’s.
9. To put it in perspective, Usain Bolt is 1.14% quicker than the next-best 100m sprinter in history; less than half the margin of dominance of Radcliffe’s world record.
10. During her world record run, Radcliffe’s quickest mile was 4:57. On average, she covered each mile in 5:09. The next-fastest women’s time in history is eight seconds per mile slower. Imagine them racing one another and Radcliffe opening up eight seconds on her opponent every mile.
11. Running 2:15:25 for the marathon is the equivalent of running the 800m in 2:34, 53 times in a row. Some world-class heptathletes struggle to run at that pace for one 800m race.
12. It is also the equivalent of running the 100m in 19.25 seconds, 422 times in a row.
13. Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 is bloody incredible.