While the outcome may not be surprising, the manner of Paula Radcliffe's performance in her head-to-head with Haile Gebrselassie in the Vienna half marathon will be the most pressing issue as the GB hopeful prepares for the London Olympics.
In what was billed as the "Emperor versus Queen race," Radcliffe finished considerably outside her target time of sub 70 minutes as she completed Sunday's race in 1:12:03. Gebrselassie, who started almost 8 minutes behind Radcliffe to correlate with their respective PBs and with the intention of making the event as closely contested as possible, finished in 1:00:52.
The distance between the two meant the projected grandstand finale at Hero Square never materialised, with the Ethiopian runner passing Radcliffe at the 15k mark. After the race, Radcliffe expressed her apprehension about the performance: "It was really concerning. Unfortunately I didn't feel great at all. The first six or seven kilometres were OK but then my legs started to feel really heavy."
Even though she revealed she had been suffering from bronchitis in the lead up to the race, Paula wasn't willing to solely blame illness for her poor performance: "I didn't feel like I was struggling to breathe; my legs just wouldn't work. I knew I wasn't on top form after the last two weeks (with bronchitis) but I didn't expect it to be that bad."
While the finishing time doesn't bode well for success at the Olympics, Paula insisted she remains entirely focused on her training and will use upcoming races to boost morale: "I am not giving up on it by any means, I think I need to get out and race and feel like myself. The 10kms that I race, and if I do race a half marathon, are a build up for the [Olympic marathon]. They are not races for running as fast as I can in their own right. But I still want to go out and feel strong and feel good."