‘Show London what you can do’ – these were the words Josh Griffiths’ father said to him, as he set off from his home in Cross Hands, Wales, to compete in the London Marathon little over three months ago.
Little did his father know, his son would do exactly that, with his performance earning him the return visit to the capital to represent Great Britain at the World Championships.
That return visit is imminent, and on Sunday (August 6) across the streets of London, the 23-year-old will run in a British vest for the first time.
Four month’s ago this was an unimaginable thought for the self-coached runner and the team at British Athletics. Who was this guy?
Griffiths qualified to compete for Britain at the World Championships, after a phenomenal performance at the London Marathon earlier this year.
After running almost twenty-six miles unnoticed, the marathon debutant caught an elite group of African runners, which drew the attention of the unaware TV commentators. In the time it took to identify this unknown competitor, Griffiths went from one of 50,000 runners to a British marathon star.
“The first two weeks after the London Marathon were such a shock, but then I got used to it a little bit – although even now it’s still strange,” jokes Griffiths.
“I had hoped to run under 2:16, which is the Wales Commonwealth Games qualifying time. That’s what I had been training for, I didn’t even know the qualifying time for the World Championships, it wasn’t something I ever thought about.”
Griffiths finished the London Marathon in two hours 14 minutes and 49 seconds, the first Briton to cross the line, securing qualification for this summer’s World Championships.
Going from an unknown runner to international athlete overnight, coaches and sponsors were in contact with Griffiths and you would expect things to have changed for the runner. However, the humble Welshman has stuck to the same training plan and is still without sponsors.
“I’ve been running a long time now and have a good idea of what works for me and what doesn’t. My preparation for the World Championships is pretty similar to what I was doing before the London Marathon, he says.
“I didn’t want to change too much, because what I was doing worked, so it’s just more of the same really. I’ve had discussions with some sponsors but I haven’t signed with anyone yet.”
“After the London Marathon I spoke to people (coaches) for advice and guidance, but that’s it really. I train completely by myself. I decide on my own training and plan what sessions I am going to do.”
Asking Griffiths about his typical training, he said: “I run between 110 to 120 miles each week. My two main sessions during the week are variations of tempo and interval runs, then I would have my long run at the weekend. Outside of this, it is just lots of easy runs to build up the miles.”
Having just completed a master’s degree in sports coaching, Griffiths always envisaged he’d be busy job hunting this summer, but with the small task of his first major championships keeping him preoccupied, job hunting plans are on hold for now.
“I just want to run my best race on the day and feel good. If I can perform to the best of my ability I’ll be happy. To be honest, the time I finish in isn’t my top priority, I just want to finish as high as possible for Great Britain,” he says.
“It’s hard to know how quick the race will be, if it’s a hot day it might be slow, but you just don’t know. I’ll just take it as comes and do my best.”
Remarkably, little over three months ago was Josh Griffiths’ first race over the 26.2-mile distance. His second will be on Sunday and as the 23-year-old once again finds his way to London his father will surely utter the same words, ’show London what you can do’.