Paula Radcliffe bid farewell and said a big 'thank you' to the Athletics fans of Britain today, as she completed the London Marathon in a time that many would be delighted to record, but was over twenty minutes behind her best ever performance. Her time of almost 2 hours and 37 minutes was an irrelevance in truth, as for her, this was more an event to remember as she moves into the next stage of her life, away from top class athletics. Not that she expects or hopes to steer clear of the London Marathon all together in future, as the BBC will no doubt call on her years of experience and expertise from the commentary box.

Having declined the organisers' offer of a place in the elite women's field, Radcliffe was content to take her place among the masses of club runners. That was where her own athletics' aspirations had begun to blossom when coach Alex Stanton took her under his wing as a young runner for Bedford and County AC. London offered her a chance to savour the moment, an opportunity that few top class runners are afforded, as she was able to run at a solid enough tempo without stretching her body to the ultimate limit. She rightly deserved the applause and well wishes from the thousands of fans who supported the athletes around the route.

A three-time winner of both the London and New York Marathons, with a victory in Chicago for good measure, the 41-year-old mother of two had nothing left to prove to her admiring public over the distance.

Her world record time of 2:15:25 from London has stood undisturbed since 2003, and had she replicated that performance this year would have left her almost eight minutes clear of the 2015 winner, Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia. Not that there was ever any chance of her running anywhere near that time in this year's race, but it does indicate the ability she possessed in her prime.

Radcliffe's presence in the race had looked to be in severe doubt after an Achilles injury flared up as recently as February this year, causing her to take six weeks off. It was Easter Sunday before she could resume her running again, with thankfully a pretty much pain-free period of daily training ever since in the build-up to the big day itself.

Her recent career has been beset by a constant stream of injury problems, with experts from around the world having provided assistance over the years. Indeed, it was only three years ago that she required surgery to recover from a career-threatening foot problem.

At the finish, she was met by her loving family, husband Gary and her daughter Isla and son Raphael. Both of her parents were also in attendance, no doubt thankful that their daughter had been able to make it around the course in one piece (for once).

Paula's obvious warmth towards the British public, who supported her throughout the 26.2 miles, was clear throughout the race and afterwards. She referred to the "magic of the London Marathon" as helping her to the finish.