NEW YORK (AFP) – Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki knows just what to expect when she steps on a tennis court, but tackling the New York City Marathon is another matter.
“I’m a little nervous,” the Dane admitted Wednesday as she looked ahead to her first crack at the 26.2-mile distance on Sunday.
“This is the farthest I’m going to run so far. I think it’s going to be an unbelievable experience. The New York City Marathon has always been on my bucket list.”
Wozniacki decided to make the fantasy a reality back in June – not long after the break-up of her engagement to golf star Rory McIlroy.
Since then she has squeezed her training runs in when she can during a busy tennis season that included a runner-up finish at the US Open.
She arrived in New York on Tuesday night via Denmark from Singapore, where she played in the WTA’s season-ending championships.
Since falling to Serena Williams in the US Open final in September, Wozniacki has played four tournaments in Japan, China and Singapore.
In the early stages of that Asian swing, her match schedule precluded serious marathon training and she was “starting to panic.”
“I had a few dreams were I didn’t finish and had to be carried through with a wheelchair,” she said.
But she was able to step up her mileage in a break between a tournament in Beijing and the championships in Singapore, which left her confident she can finish even though her longest run to date is 13 miles. Contrary to fears that combining marathon training with tennis would lead to injury or debilitating fatigue, Wozniacki says she’s never felt better. She credited her running with helping her in a three-hour slug-fest with Maria Sharapova in Singapore last week.
Even so, none of her elite tennis rivals have voiced an interest in emulating her marathon attempt.
“None of the others have said that they want to try,” Wozniacki said. “I think you need to be a little crazy – but in a good way, I hope.”
She did get some advice from Kimiko Date-Krumm, the Japanese WTA veteran who has run marathons.
“She told me that she had a really tough time, but she had a great time as well,” Wozniacki said. “Obviously, you have to watch out for your body, but I think, as an athlete, you know your body so well. You know when you can push it. You know when you need to hold back.”
Wozniacki said she has a time goal in mind, but she’s not ready to share it. She’s also running for a children’s charity, and has already raised $50,689 for Team For Kids, which funds youth fitness programs.