World record holder Paula Radcliffe bids farewell in London

    A face in the crowd: Paula Radcliffe mixes it with the club runners at the start of the 2015 London Marathon.

    (CNN)Women's world record holder Paula Radcliffe bade an emotional farewell to the London Marathon Sunday -- the event where she set her phenomenal best time back in 2003.

    The 41-year-old Radcliffe, plagued by injuries in recent years, had vowed to pound the 42km course around Britain's capital city just one more time and was good to her word.
    Those 12 years ago, Radciffe stunned the world of athletics with a time of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds and also produced two other sub two-hour 18 minutes performances for the marathon distance at the peak of her career.
      To put it into context, the winning time of the 2015 London women's winner, Ethiopia's Tigist Tufa, was just under eight minutes slower than Radcliffe's of 2003.
        In cold and windy conditions, it was nevertheless a fine performance from Tufa, who relegated two-time former winner Mary Keitany of Kenya to second place.
        The men's race was won by Eliud Kipchoge, who led a Kenyan clean sweep of the podium places with a time of two hours four minutes 42 seconds.
        He burst clear in the closing stages to beat defending London champion Wilson Kipsang, with world record-holder Dennis Kimetto finishing in third place.
        Radcliffe did not mix it with the elite runners, who have their own separate starts, but choose to line-up alongside the 38,000 others in the mass start.
        Cheered to the echo at the start and around the course, Radcliffe did not disappoint and crossed the finishing line to enormous cheers in the The Mall in a highly respectable time of two hours 36 minutes 55 seconds.
        Typically, her preparations had been dogged by an Achilles injury, which nearly jeopardized her appearance, but she ran strongly throughout, waving on a regular basis to her supporters, who thronged the streets.
        "Today it was so special," she told BBC Sport. "It was just amazing the whole way around."
        Radcliffe is a three-time winner of both the London and New York marathons and former world champion at the distance.
          But a mixture of injury and illness ruined her bids for Olympic marathon glory in 2004 and 2008 and she was unable to compete in her home Games in London in 2012.
          Her 2003 mark is considered by athletic experts one of the finest performances of all time, with no other woman coming within three minutes of breaking it.