More than 40,000 people took part in the London Marathon at the weekend, but the two competitors everyone is talking about are Matthew Rees and Josh Griffiths - who both ended 2016 by taking part in the Nos Galan Road Races. 

Both athletes with Swansea Harriers, Josh and Matthew competed in the Elite Race in Mountain Ash on New Year’s Eve. Josh finished in fourth place in a time of 14 minutes, 23 seconds. Matthew came 17th in a time of 15 minutes, 26 seconds. 

Josh, wearing number 173, and Matthew, number 40, had a great reception from the public at the Nos Galan Road Races, which are organised by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and the Nos Galan Committee. 

At the weekend, Josh, aged 23, stunned Britain's elite men at the London Marathon to qualify for the 2017 World Championships in London, with a finishing time of two hours, 14 minutes, 49 seconds on his marathon debut to claim an automatic qualifying place.

Having started in Greenwich Park behind the elite field, Josh was the first British runner to cross the finish line and was 13th overall. 

“The crowd was amazing and carried me to the finish line. I had only previously run 5K’s, 10K’s and half marathon. The goal for me was to try and run the Welsh Commonwealth Games qualifying time of two hours, 16 minutes - It never crossed my mind that I would be running in the World Championships this summer. 

“I didn't really realise until I crossed the finish line what I had just done,” said Josh, who also finished third in last year’s Cardiff Half Marathon. 

And while Josh Griffiths was making headlines all around the world at the weekend, his Swansea Harriers team-mate Matthew Rees was being praised for epitomising the spirit of the London Marathon by helping a fellow competitor over the line. 

As Matthew entered The Mall for the closing stages, he noticed David Wyeth, of Chorlton Runners, Manchester, struggling with 135 metres (150 yards) to go. 

Giving no thought to his own time, Matthew stopped to assist David Wyeth, grabbed hold of him, and helped him across the finishing line, to be cheered home and presented with their medals by Prince William, Prince Harry and The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. 

Alison Leighton-Williams, Patron of the Nos Galan Road Races, said: “On behalf of everyone associated with our event, I would like to pass on our heartfelt congratulations to both Josh and Matthew on their London Marathon success. 

“Just months earlier, they were both running on the streets of Mountain Ash in our world-famous race. We wish Josh well in the World Championships and hopefully will welcome them back to Mountain Ash at the end of the year.” 

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Posted on Tuesday 25th April 2017

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