Dewi Griffiths will use the Cardiff University Cardiff Half Marathon as a final trial before deciding whether or not to make his marathon debut in Frankfurt next month.
Dewi pictured at the 2016 Cardiff University Cardiff Half Marathon
The 26-year-old Swansea Harrier, fresh from his latest big personal best time of 62:53 in finishing seventh in the Great North Run, is looking to reduce his time even further on the streets of the Welsh capital in what is shaping up to be one of the hottest fields ever assembled in Wales outside of the 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon.
Griffiths, whose previous best was 63:27 in finishing eighth in Cardiff last year, will find himself embroiled in a huge battle to be the best of British and Welsh with World Championship marathon men Andrew Davies (65:18) and Josh Griffiths (65:08). They will also be joined by Swansea Harriers' Jon Hopkins who ran 8:34 for the 3,000m s/c this summer.
Josh Griffiths & Andrew Davies at the IAAF World Championships
They will be joined in the field by the winner of the 2014 English National Cross Country Championships Charlie Hulson, the North Walian will be making his debut over the 13.1 mile distance. Ben Connor (64:12), the 2017 English National Cross Country, is another Brit who will be looking to make an impact.
Having kept up with Mo Farah and the Robertson twins, Jake and Zane, in the first half of the race in Newcastle, Griffiths slipped back before finishing strongly to end with a 34 sec PB. It wasn’t as fast as he had hoped for, but on a flatter and faster Cardiff course he is hoping for an even better performance when he joins the sold-out field of 25,000 athletes.
Given there are athletes from 11 nations taking part, including the defending champion Shadrack Kimining (60:07) and fellow Kenyan Wilfred Murgor (59:57), it looks as though the pace could be hot once again. Kimining, who won in 60:53 last year, is returning to try to break the hour mark for the first time.
Shadrack Kimining Korir will target sub 60 minutes in Cardiff
“My position was probably better than the time in Newcastle. I had a great month in August and I wanted to take a chunk off my half-marathon this weekend – perhaps a little more than I did,” admitted Griffiths.
“The leaders were running at the pace I wanted early on, but I felt a little more tired than usual at 10k. I finished strongly, but it wasn’t a good enough time to convince me one way or the other about possibly making my marathon debut in Frankfurt next month.
“I won’t change my racing or training schedule and we’ll see what happens in Cardiff next month. I can’t run in the London Marathon next year because of a clash with the Commonwealth Games and by the time the 2020 Olympic Games come around I see myself best suited to challenge for a place in the British team in the marathon.
“So if I can test myself off the back of some good training and great times next month then that will give me an idea of what I’m capable of.”
Griffiths has already run himself into contention for a 5,000 and 10,000 metre double at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year after a sensational track season. He reduced his 5,000 metre best by 20 seconds this summer to 13.33.60 and chopped 12 seconds off his 10,000 metre time to lower it to 28.16.07.
As well as Kimining and Murgor, the Kenyan contingent will also include Eliud Kiptanui (61:24), this year’s Ottawa marathon winner who clocked 2:05.21 in finishing second in the Berlin Marathon two years ago, Josphat Bett (61:01), runner-up in the 2014 Commonwealth Games 10,000 metres, with a 10,000m best of 26:48 and debutants Kiprono Kipkemboi and Elias Kemboi (63:14).
Hiskel Tewelde pictured at Cardiff 2016
There will be a four strong Japanese contingent led by Wataru Ueno (61:19), while Eritrea’s Hiskel Tewelde (60:29) will be returning to the course where he helped his country win the bronze medal in the team trace at last year’s World Half Marathon championships. He ran in the 10,000 metres at the Rio Olympic Games and this summer’s World Championships in London.
Morocco’s Moussab Hadout (60:19) comes into the race on the back of a second place finish in the Madrid Half Marathon, while the Irish duo of Mick Clohisey (64:25) and Sean Hehir (65:12) both competed for their country at the IAAF World Championships in London.
In the women’s race, it is likely to take something spectacular to unseat Bahrain’s Violah Jepchumba (65:22) from the title, although the Kenyan duo of Edith Chelimo (68:12) and Beatrice Mutai (69:30) will do their best. Jepchumba, the second fastest of all-time over 10,000 metres, won last year’s race in 68:13 as she beat the rest of the field by almost two minutes.
Violah Jepchumba will defend her title
Ethiopia’s Zeineba Worku (73:17) is another name to look out for. She finished in the top 10 at the World Junior Cross Country Championships earlier this year, while Welsh athlete Elinor Kirk (74:18) was a 10,000 metre finalist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and is also set to compete.
Swansea Harrier Caryl Jones (71:18) hopes to show she is returning to top form after a lengthy injury lay-off and she should have fellow Brits Michelle Ross-Cope (City of Stoke - 72:01), Emma Stepto (Cornwall AC - 72:28) and Jenny Nesbit (Worcester AC - 72:54) for company at the front end of the domestic battle.
Rob Smith (58.45), current T52 record holder for all distances, will be joined in the wheelchair race by Ben Rowlings, who competed at the Rio Paralympic Games and who set a half-marathon PB this year of 54:41 in Silverstone). They will be tackling the defending champion, Richie Powell (54:53).
The ladies Wheelchair race feature double Paralypian Melissa Nicholls (53:38) of Coventry Godiva.