At the other end of the athletic spectrum from me and performing far beyond the capabilities of most us, you’ll find Paula Radcliffe, whose life appears to have been destined to bring her to Athens. One’s admiration only increases upon learning that, in order to bring herself to the very pinnacle of athletic prowess, she has had to find ways to control the potentially debilitating combination of asthma and anaemia. The asthma is kept at bay, in part, by drinking wheatgrass juice whilst the anaemia, more surprisingly, by eating chocolate, which is rich in magnesium, iron and zinc. Would anyone believe me if I said that? Anyway, along with half the country, I will be cheering her on in a couple of hours when she competes in the race that will retrace the steps of the original run from Marathon to Athens. Hopefully, like Philippides sprinting ahead of the invaders, Radcliffe will run ahead of the pack to claim her place in history. Asthma or no asthma, she is fully expected to live to tell the tale and run again, unlike poor Philippides who, after announcing the Persians were popping over for a spot of afternoon tea and wholesale slaughter, promptly dropped dead from his exertions.
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