About an hour and a half over, now. I'm actually now watching the delayed version on NBC. We're approaching the halfway point here, while Paula Radcliffe is still in the lead pack. Before Constantina Tomescu-Dita pulled ahead—leaving everyone else behind for the remainder of the race—before Paula finally succumbed to her pain and dropped behind, to finish 23rd and almost six minutes behind the 38-year-old gold medalist.
Of course, with a time of just over two and a half hours, Paula's "losing" time is far, far faster than any of the rest of us mortals can even dream of.
Watching the runners on TV, they all look speedy and graceful. The winner, Tomescu-Dita, had an average pace of just over 5:30 per mile. And since her second half was speedier than the first, her finishing miles were even faster. It is almost impossible to fathom running so fast for any distance, let alone 26.2 miles!
I hope I have never, and never do, look in as much pain as Japan's Reiko Tosa. The agony on her face throughout most of the race was devastating. She could be the poster child for reasons not to run a marathon! (Along with Paula Radcliffe squatting on the sidelines... yes, again.)
Interestingly, this is the first time Paula Radcliffe has lost a marathon she has completed. In Athens she dropped out due to injury; she has won all the other seven that she has done. So this is something of a new experience for her, not winning a marathon.
The question remains whether this will have been Paula's last opportunity to win the Olympic marathon. I think both she (and Deena Kastor) should take encouragement from Constantina Tomescu-Dita's win today—she is 38, the same age Paula Radcliffe will be at the time of the 2012 London Games.* (Deena will be 39.) And they can always look to Dara Torres for inspiration!
*And I, hopefully, will be in London watching them.