Swansea Harriers runner Josh Griffiths is still stunned to have beaten Britain's elite men at his debut London Marathon and to automatically qualify for the 2017 World Championships in London.
The 23-year-old Cardiff Met MA student finished in two hours 14 minutes 49 seconds and also wins automatic qualification for August's World Championships.
Josh, from Carmarthenshire, was the first UK runner to cross the finish line, coming in 13th overall.
“I’m absolutely over the moon – I can’t really believe it,” he says. “I was just running to a target of 2 hours and 16 minutes to qualify for the World Championships, so this hadn’t even crossed my mind.”
Josh, who decided nine months ago to train for the marathon, studied at Undergraduate level at the University and graduates from his MA in Sport Coaching in July.
James Thie, the University’s performance director of athletics, was Josh’s coach for four years during his undergraduate studies and was at the finish line in his capacity as part of the Marathon’s Elite team.
Former Ysgol Dyffryn Aman student Josh said: “I always had my heart set on studying at Cardiff Met, since training here for indoor races when I was a bit younger. The quality of the sport coaching courses here really appealed to me, as well as the sport lecturers all being leaders in the field, particularly at MA level.
“The Cardiff Met team and James in particular, has really helped over the years. The University’s fanstastic facilities have really benefitted me and James is a great coach for the middle distances. I decided to train on my own for this, as you are very much on your own and in your own zone throughout the event and you have to listen to your own body and make that call.
“I had a great weekend and went on the Elite Team’s boat along the Thames to the presentation event in Docklands – it has been unreal.”
James Thie, who himself had a highly acclaimed career as a professional 1500m athlete and represented Wales in two Commonwealth Games, said: “The London Marathon is a great event to work on – I have worked with the Marathon’s Elite Team for the last eight years, but Josh’s race was the stuff of ‘legends.’
“Given Josh’s personality, I wasn’t overly surprised actually by his fantastic result in this, his first marathon. He had taken his training into his own hands and his time wasn’t the surprise, becoming the first Brit across the line ahead of more experienced and more favoured runners was.
“Just before the race, there was a lot of media interest in this relative unknown and those who know me through the Marathon’s Elite team were keen to get the lowdown on Josh. To think that his second and third marathons may now be for Britain in London in August and at the Commonwealth games on the Gold Coast in April, is just unreal.
“This is the stuff of dreams – it’s like starting in the first round of the FA Cup and going on to win it! Josh was scheduled for the BUCS 10,000m event in Highgate on May 21st, but his plans may have to change now, after this weekend.
“There were plenty of Cardiff Met students and alumnus racing, including alumna like Charlotte Arter who was pacing for the British Elite Women’s team. It is great to see runners like Josh really enjoying the sport.”