Paula Radcliffe needed just a drive around the streets earlier in the week to acquaint herself with the course for Sunday's World Championship marathon. Now the world record-holder for the distance is ready to win yet another World title to add to the cross country and half marathon crowns already under her belt.
Radcliffe 31, is ready and well prepared, particularly after warming-up for the 26miles 382yards race, with a fast clocking in last Saturday's 10000metres final. Radcliffe is aware her Japanese rivals have spent some time - but not the months cited - basing themselves in Helsinki to study the course. Instead several of their athletes have been flown for recce visits in the last year.
Radcliffe upbeat of her chances of victory, said: "I'm aware they have been preparing thoroughly, have been here and will have been training on the course. But it's about what works for each individual. "People prepare in different ways, I have never done that before for any of my marathons, I probably only ran the last 300m of New York and it didn't do me any harm then and I don't think it will now. I have driven around the course in a car. I prefer to do that as I take it in better that way. I thought the course was nice, testing in places but nothing bad. The road surface is good with only one area of cobbled stones."
Kenyan's defending champion Catherine Ndereba, who held the world record before Radcliffe, will be the greatest threat while Derartu Tulu her arch 10000m and cross country rival is never one to be underestimated. Notable absentees are Olympic gold and bronze medallists Mizuko Noguchi of Japan and American Deena Kastor and Susan Chepkemei, who finished just three seconds behind Radcliffe in New York last November and Margaret Okayo another Kenyan star.
Radcliffe insisted: "Everything is in as good shape as it could be at the moment," Racliffe added. "I want to make sure I realise all the preparation I have done and make it all worthwhile."