Paula Ratcliffe of Great Britain set the women’s marathon world record in 2002, broke it in 2003, and was the odds on favorite to win the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
She started strong and was in the lead, but the 95 degree heat began to weigh heavily on her. At mile 22 of the 26.2 mile race, she suddenly stopped and sat down on a curb. She couldn’t finish. She put her head in her hands and began sobbing uncontrollably.
She was officially classified as DNF – Did Not Finish. A small Japanese woman crossed the finish line first for the gold, a Kenyan won silver, and an elated American finished third for bronze.
I remember the race vividly, not because of those who won at the top, but those who won at the bottom. Continue reading Finish the Race