By Rob Cole
Dewi Griffiths’ elevation to world class status on the roads was confirmed with another incredible personal best performance in finishing fourth in the Cardiff University / Cardiff Half Marathon.
The Swansea Harrier stripped 82 sec off his previous best to finish in 61:31 – the third fastest time by a British athlete this year behind Callum Hawkins (60:00) and Mo Farah (60:06), equal 12thfastest of all-time by a British runner and the second fastest of all-time by a Welshman.
“I’m over the moon, ecstatic” admitted the 26-year-old Griffiths, “I knew I was running well and I felt really comfortable mile after mile.
“I couldn’t believe everyone was running so slowly to begin with, but I release now that I was running faster than ever before. I had to leave the three Japanese athletes behind and for the first four miles I was running 10 second faster per mile than I did in the Great North Run a few weeks ago.
“Every mile I kept telling myself I was feeling good and at 12 miles I could see Hiskel Tewelde just in front of me. I put in an effort to catch him and then went past him.
“I’m thrilled to have taken so many good scalps. That time is amazing and I can’t really believe.”
He better had because not only has it rocketed him up the rankings, but it has also convinced him to dip his toe into the marathon market in four weeks’ time in Frankfurt. Having run a PB almost every time he has stepped onto the track or road this year, it will be interesting to see how his debut goes in Germany.
While a 5,000 / 10,000 metre double at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next April is his main priority, a time under the 2:16.00 marathon qualifying mark for the 2018 European Championships in Berlin looks well within his reach.
“After that run it would be rude not to have a go at the Frankfurt Marathon. It has been in my mind for some time and I always thought I would give it a go, but this performance has convinced me it is the right thing to do,” said Griffiths.
“In many ways it is a shot to nothing and I feel I’ve got to give it a go. If I can qualify for the European Championships that will give me a major medal to aim at next year after the Commonwealth Games.”
There were there Kenyans and an Eritrean ahead of Griffiths until he managed to overhaul Tewelde. The battle for the title mended in defeat for the defending champion, Shadrack Kimining, as he was beaten by fellow countryman John Lotiang.
Lotiang was looking over this shoulder for the last mile and a half after breaking clear, but managed to hang on in the end to crack the event record set by Kimining last year. He took the tape in a personal best 60:43 to strip eight seconds off the record.
Kimining was second in 60:47, also inside his 2016 record, and the third Kenyan, Kipkemboi Kiprono, marked his half-marathon debut with a time of 61:08. British marathon champions Josh Griffiths 65:38 in 14th, while north Walian Charlie Hulson was one place ahead of him in 65:33 on debut.
In between them was the first woman, Kenya’s Edith Chelimo, who broke the nine-year-old UK All-Comers Record with a winning time of 65:52.
“Chelimo ran an incredible race – she is so fast,” said Josh Griffiths, who ran for Team GB at the World Championships after taking the British title at the London Marathon.
“This year has been unbelievable for me and provides me with motivation moving forward. I just want to take this into the winter and build towards the Commonwealth Games,” he said.
“I am happy with my time, but before I would have been ecstatic with it. That shows how far I’ve come and now I just want to keep improving.
“It’s inspiring seeing the likes of Dewi run as fast as he is and I’ve just got to keep pushing myself. Loads of athletes in Wales are running well and I think Welsh athletics is on a bit of a high at the moment and we just need to keep the ball rolling.”
Worcester AC’s Jenny Nesbit took the Welsh women’s title with a time of 73:23 as she held off two athletes who were using the race to build up to their marathon debuts in the hope of running a qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games. Caryl Jones was the second Welsh woman home in 75:24, with Elinor Kirk third in 79:23.
Jones is due to take here shot at qualification in the Amsterdam Marathon, while Kirk, who ran in the 10,000 metres at Glasgow, will make her debut in Florence.