19th October 2020


After his stunning exploits on the roads of Poland on Saturday, British Under-23 Half Marathon record holder Jake Smith (coach: James Thie; club: Cardiff) admits what he has accomplished hasn’t yet sunk in.

Smith was the top British athlete and second European across the line at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, cutting the tape in 60:31 to smash his own British Under-23 Half Marathon record by nearly 90 seconds.

Being able to cap off what has been a hectic year for many in the way that he did is testament to the work he has put in over the summer months and to mix it with some of the best athletes in the world shows how far he has developed.

Assessing his performance from Saturday’s race: “I’m still in shock, I’ve seen some of the people commenting online and it’s all the top athletes in Great Britain and some of the best in the world like world record holder Joshua Cheptegei, but it’s quite nice to know quite how great the team is and the team around me.

“Everyone has been messaging each other and to be in with that group really adds to the achievement. Next week might still be a bit weird but I’m on cloud nine.

“I’ve been so fortunate just to be able to run this year. So many other athletes have had their races cancelled and for me, just to have this race on and to have the opportunity has been such a good result for me and such a big relief to cap off the season.

“I just really couldn’t imagine running that time, I know my training has been really, really good but to run that quick and be involved within the top 20 in the World Championships is not too bad at all.”

On his senior British debut, Smith felt that the spirit within the team was something that could not be faulted and helped to make his first appearance on the roads in a British vest much more memorable.

At the end of the race and while discussing performances with his teammates, 5000m and 10,000m world record holder Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) took Smith to the side to congratulate him on his epic performance and offer some words of encouragement.

Being in that environment Smith feels is something that will enhance his work on the roads moving forwards, knowing that he can cut it with the big names of the sport.

“It’s been amazing being in with that team, flying over here was the first time I’d met Mo Aadan who I was sharing with and it’s been really good getting to know him and he’s been incredibly welcoming.

“For some reason he’s been introducing me to everyone he knows that here, including most of the guys who were in the top places in the race! As a team, everyone has made sure that everything we do has been done properly and this whole squad has been amazing.

“We all had the photo with Joshua Cheptegei at the end of the race and it was a really special moment for us all just to be there discussing how we did as a team when he came along and to have that moment was awesome, it’s been a really top trip for me.”

Smith admits his next attempt at a half marathon might not come for a good while as he elects to focus on the 10,000m on the track as he moves into 2021 and focuses on the Tokyo Olympics.

He hopes that having a season to work purely on his speed will allow him to return to the 2022 World Athletics Half Marathon Championships with a spring in his step and hopes to be the first European home next time around.

“I’m going to come down and step down in distance for a bit and focus more on the 10,000m next season. My next half might end up being the next World Half in two years so hopefully if that is the case and I can go through 10K in a similar time to the weekend, I’ll feel much better about it.

“I only say that because I was running through 10K on Saturday in PB pace, I ran 28:50 for 10K on the road only a month ago and to go through 30 seconds quicker at the World Half and try and hold on did hurt a bit I’m not going to lie. I need to work on getting a bit quicker and hopefully in a few years, clinch a spot in that top ten,” he added.