London hotel guests were treated to a surprise this morning when Olympic hopeful Paula Radcliffe encouraged them to join her in a pre-marathon warm-up.
Holiday Inn, the official hotel provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, invited triple London Marathon winner Radcliffe and Paralympic athlete Shelly Woods to host a training session near its Bloomsbury hotel.
Guests were encouraged to join the pair in a gentle run around London's Russell Square where Paula and Shelly shared some of their running hints, tips and advice. Back at the hotel, Holiday Inn treated participants to a free Breakfast of Champions, designed to boost athletic performance.
Radcliffe and Woods are both part of Holiday Inn's Athlete Engagement Programme, which supports 50 emerging and established British athletes, including Rebecca Adlington, Mo Farah and Victoria Pendleton, in their quest for medals by giving them and their support teams more than 1,500 free room nights in the lead up to the Olympics.
Participating hotels are from InterContinental Hotels Group's (IHG) six brands and include InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites.
In return for hotel rooms, athletes provide unique experiences for Holiday Inn staff, guests and the general public. The Breakfast of Champions marathon warm-up follows on the heels of Run with Mo Farah and Ride with Mark Cavendish events hosted by Holiday Inn in 2011.
Radcliffe said: "I love the marathon and this seemed like a great event to build into my training programme. As I spend lots of my time away from home at various events and training camps around the world it's great to have the support of Holiday Inn and the free nights they provide. It's a big advantage to be able to have my coaching team and family alongside me when I'm training, competing or winding down. They provide an invaluable boost that can make the difference between winning and losing."
Shelly Woods added: "I really enjoyed hosting this event for Holiday Inn and it's been a pleasure to be involved alongside Paula. It's nice to meet so many fans and to see so many long-distance enthusiasts taking part."
As part of its London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games sponsorship, Holiday Inn is also working with LOCOG to host 17,000 athletes and officials in the Athletes Village, employing a number of aspiring Olympic and Paralympic athletes on a flexible basis at hotels in the lead up to the Games, and hosting the Torch Relay team as they tour the UK.
Photo credit: David Parry/PA
By Janet Harmer
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