GOLDEN girl Paula Radcliffe crowned a record-breaking day for the Great North Run by running the fastest half- marathon in history yesterday.

Radcliffe led from start to finish to add the half- marathon record to the marathon record she set in London earlier this year.

Her time of 65 minutes 40 seconds for the 13.1 miles from Newcastle to South Shields knocked four seconds off the previous world best.

Before the start, race organisers already knew they had attracted a record entry of 47,000 runners, raising a record amount of cash for charity. A world record on an undulating course not suited to quick times was beyond their wildest dreams.

But yet again Radcliffe, who missed last month's world athletics championships because of a training setback, surpassed all expectations in the near-perfect conditions.

"I took it out fast but did not expect to be on my own after three-and-a-half miles," said Radcliffe.

"It was only in the final 30 metres that I suddenly realised it could be mine and I pushed myself as hard as I could to get across the line."

Police estimated that record crowds lined the route to cheer Radcliffe and the thousands of club and fun runners who trailed behind her.

Among the personalities in the race was former Downing Street communications director Alastair Campbell, who was raising money for Leuk-aemia Research.

The cheers for Radcliffe were almost matched by those for terminal cancer sufferer Jane Tomlinson, who was taking part in the race after already completing the UK half Ironman Triathlon, the London Triathlon, the London Marathon and cycling from John o'Groats to Land's End on a tandem bike earlier this year.

The 39-year-old mother-of-three, who has raised nearly a quarter of a million pounds for cancer charities, completed the course in one hour 49 minutes.