‘Paula phoned me while I was shopping – and suddenly I’m in’
IT IS the kind of situation which would be a dream come true for millions. There you are, outside your local super-market, about to do the weekly shopping, when suddenly you get a call inviting you to run at the Olympics.
That’s the way it happened for Freya Murray, and although it was not completely a bolt from the blue, it was a dream come true all the same.
Since April, when she was second British woman home in the London Marathon, the 28-year-old Scot had been a reserve for Team GB. She had been aware for some time that Paula Radcliffe was battling fitness problems, and had kept herself in readiness by sticking to her marathon training schedule. But it was the Chicago race she was training for, not the one here on Sunday.
And then came the call: confirmation from Radcliffe that she was not going to make it to her fifth Olympics, and that Murray would take her place.
“When I got the call from Paula, I was actually outside Asda,” Murray said yesterday from her home near Newcastle. “I was popping in for the weekly shop, although it didn’t turn into the weekly shop I’d been planning, with me not being there for so long now.
“It’s been a really exciting couple of days, letting it all sink in. I’ve never had so many texts and Facebook messages. Hopefully, I’ll be able to celebrate after Sunday with a good performance.”
UK Athletics were not allowed to nominate an official reserve, but Murray was informally told that she was the back-up, having impressed the national coaches with a time of 2hr 28min 12sec in her first outing over the distance.
That call from Radcliffe came last Thursday, and her inclusion was confirmed three days later, when the IOC accepted Team GB’s application to draft her in as a late replacement.
“I first knew for sure on Sunday,” Murray explained. “I’d been kept informed of how things were going since April. I’d had a couple of updates.
“Paula called me on Thursday to give me an update from her point of view on how things were. I really appreciated her phoning.
“Paula let me know how things were going with her, and a bit more background on what the problem was and what she thought her chances of being able to race at that point were. She explained the process of what she was going to do to test [her injury] to see if she thought she could race. We talked through all that, and it was nice to hear it from her first-hand.
“At that point I didn’t want to get too carried away with myself. I was like ‘It sounds it might happen – but then again it might not’. I didn’t think I was definitely going at that point, but I knew there was more of a possibility than there had been previous to that. I was still trying to keep an open mind and wait for the results of her tests over the weekend.
“It must have been a very difficult call for [Radcliffe] to have to make. I just really feel for her: I’m totally gutted for her.
“I can only imagine how she must feel right now. It must be horrible. She was upset, but she was really positive for me and that was really nice. Hopefully she can recover and get back running again.”
Despite the late notice, Murray insisted that she is more than ready to take part on Sunday, and that little would have been done differently had she been selected earlier. “Probably the only thing I’d have done differently if I’d been first Brit in London and selected at that point was go back out to Boulder for some altitude training. That’s probably it.
“Other than that, I’ve been able to prepare as I would for other races. I’ve still been at work, but that’s normal to me, I suppose.
“I had a niggle for a few weeks and wasn’t able to run as much as I’d have liked, but things are going really well again now and I’m really happy with training. I did a two-hour run on Saturday and felt great, so I’m feeling really positive. Hopefully it’ll come together.
“I want to feel like I’ve done the best I can. Maybe Paula won’t watch, but if she is I think it would be pretty horrible for her to watch someone just daundering around.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North