Cheshire Marathon pacer decides to continue running – and wins the race

Jacob Moreton
·2-min read
Photo credit: Mick Hall/Run Cheshire
Photo credit: Mick Hall/Run Cheshire

Jake Smith won the Cheshire Elite Marathon on Sunday with an Olympic qualifying time of 2:11 – despite not even intending to finish the race.

Smith (23), who held the Welsh half marathon record until he switched back to racing for England last year, was acting as a pacer in the race, but opted to carry on past the 25km mark. And it was his first marathon.

‘Still in shock with what has just happened today’ he said in an Instagram post. ‘Looked down at the watch at like mile 17 and thought “sod it” let’s try run the Olympic time. Thankfully it paid off.’

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His time of 2:11 was only a few seconds behind Chris Thompson’s time at the British Marathon Trials in March, where Smith was also a pacer. It was also 30 seconds faster than the standard for the Tokyo Olympics.

Smith’s previous longest distance was 19 miles. According to his coach, James Thie, he ran the race with little of the usual marathon preparation or race fuel – taking on no drinks and only one gel.

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Fellow Cardiff runner Matt Clowes tweeted after the race about Smith’s relaxed approach: ‘He was laughing and joking around when he [passed] me at 20-ish miles. Like he was out for a jog. Cracking run, you legend’.

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The Bermuda-born athlete previously ran the third-fastest British half marathon ever, clocking 60:31 at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships last year, to beat his personal best by 89 seconds.

Having moved to Cardiff for university, Smith represented Wales for a time before making the ‘hard decision’ to switch his allegiance back to England. In an Instagram post, he said: ‘As my parents were born in England and I don’t have any family ties in Wales, I would feel much better representing England at future competitions.

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‘However, I would like to thank Welsh Athletics for everything they have done for me as their support to date has been incredible,’ he added.

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