You might expect a few things from your first ever marathon: a definite rollercoaster of emotions; a possible encounter with the dreaded ‘wall’; maybe even a chance encounter with a viking.
You’d be forgiven, though, for setting your sights a little lower than aiming to beat every single one of your fellow countrymen… which is exactly what Josh Griffiths, a 23-year-old club runner for Swansea Harriers, did yesterday at the London Marathon.
In his first ever race over 26.2 miles, the Welshman took the marathon world by storm as he out-ran all the British elites to cross the line in 2:14:49 – and qualify for the World Athletics Championships in August.
“I just wanted to run under 2:16, to qualify for the Welsh Commonwealth Games,” Griffiths told MR, “and even that was an ambitious target. So to run 2:14…it’s crazy really.
“Even up till mile 24, all I was thinking of was trying to hit my 2:16 target pace, then when I got into the final mile it started to hit me that I might qualify for the World Champs.”
Griffiths went on to describe the incredible moment he not only caught up with, but began overtaking some of his running heroes:
“I caught up with the main group, then I remember overtaking Scott Overall. It was crazy. I was a bit worried I was just pacing it badly, but I felt good that I decided to keep going.”
And the moment he crossed the line: pure disbelief.
“I couldn’t believe it when I finished and saw my time. I still can’t really.”
Griffiths’ stellar performance, though, wasn’t quite as out-of-nowhere as it appears.
Despite not being registered as an elite athlete, he’s far from an ordinary club runner, and his World Championship-qualifying time was the result of months of incredibly hard graft.
“For the last few months I’ve been training every day – with double sessions six days a week,” Griffiths says, before adding that he’s been averaging “100 miles a week since October.
“Running’s always something I’ve wanted to do (full-time), but it’s never been a realistic goal.
“I’ve been struggling to look for a job for the past month or so, actually, so hopefully I can perform well at the World Champs and see what happens.”
And his advice to any other first-time marathoners/would-be world beaters?
“Get the training done and believe in yourself.”
Wise words; just don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not mixing it with the elites first time round.