Great Britain's Jake Smith won a marathon that he hadn't even planned on finishing.
Jake Smith Running the Marathon
Smith who was born in Bermuda ran an impressive debut Marathon, taking the win at the Cheshire Elite Marathon in Wales in 2:11:00. His win was a big surprise, not because he was an underdog in the race, but because he wasn’t supposed to finish the marathon at all.
Smith started the race as a pacer, but after his planned exit point, he decided to keep running on a whim, and he carried on to the finish line far ahead of second place and well under the Olympic standard of 2:11:30.
Smith is one of the fastest British Half-Marathoners ever, and his Personal Best of 1:00:31 (which he ran at the 2020 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships, where he finished in 18th) is third-best in national history, behind only Callum Hawkins (1:00:00) and British legend Mo Farah (59:32). His success over 21.1K made him a perfect pacing candidate to help marathoners through the first half of their races, and he did so on several occasions before Sunday.
In October, just two weeks before he ran at the World Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, Smith paced a group of elite men (including Canadian Cam Levins) at the London Marathon.
As Smith wrote on Instagram after that race, he led that pack through 21.1K in 1:03:45, and instead of stopping, he kept going for another mile or so before his coach told him he had to get off the course. “The marathon life is not for me just yet,” Smith wrote.
He had carried the leaders close to two-thirds of the way at that point, and with his role as a pacer fulfilled, he shifted focus to his own goal — one that he hadn’t known he wanted to hit until that moment mid-race. He ran away from the rest of the field and closed impressively (despite never having run that fast for that long before), crossing the line in 2:11:00, 38 seconds in front of the second-place runner. Smith’s run now places him at 30th all-time among British runners, and he didn’t even train specifically for the event.
To add to his achievement, Smith’s debut marathon win came just four days after he won a 1,500m, also in Wales, in 3:50.89. After his run, he wrote on Instagram that he plans to focus on the shorter event this season, and based on both times, he’s certainly capable of thriving at either distance.