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Thie’s Budapest 10 year reunion of his greatest achievement

We’re delighted that Welsh athletics legend James Thie has come on board for the week to write a blog for Jumping the Gun as he competes in the World Masters Indoor Championships. James is returning to the site of his best achievement when he finished 4th in the world indoors (senior) over 1500m in 2004.

James Thie Word Masters Indoor Championships, Budapest: 

Blog 1 for Jumping the gun; Tuesday 25th March, 

First off, hello and thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Just to help things along, please ignore my spelling and grammar as limited time within chasing around after two small children and doing bit of running while out here!

For those that don’t know me, I will give you a quick catch up! I live in Llanharan, South Wales with my lovely wife Alex, two children Bella (3) and Elliott (1). Then I better not forget my faithful springer ‘Pre’- yes, named after Steve Prefontaine. That’s me, I love athletics and everything about the sport! My full-time job for the last 5 years proves that, as Competitions Manager for Welsh Athletics, and last 2.5 years in a dual role as Head performance coach at Cardiff Met University. In my spare time, I also coach an amazing group of athletes and they have kept my own running alive the last few years. I feel very lucky and privileged to coach so many talented and successful athletes – it would be unfair to name a few as all are superstars to me:  profile check out my power of ten link:

My own running journey has been a fun roller coaster ride and is still going, AND I’m not sure of the final destination. I will, though, continue to enjoy the stops and sights along the route and never take any of it for granted. Also you can see from my Power of ten I have been around a long time now, with constant racing year in year out. I was a UK U20 champion back in 1996 and full senior Champion in 2003. My best year was in 2004, where I ran 3:38 indoors and 3:37.0 outdoors. But my 4th in the World indoors that same year, in Budapest, is why this current journey and direction has been so focused. 

Turning 35 is strange, as I don’t really feel that old! But it’s been on the cards for a while, as looking at athlete lists for a while – I’ve been the oldest by a number of years. Only the return of Tony (Anthony) Whiteman has made me feel ‘young again’. On a world stage athletes like Bernard Lagat and Kim Collins are showing that age is only a number. But they are few and far between, and if I look at the UK 1500m rankings over 35 there is barely anyone else breaking 4 minutes- my best last summer being 3:46. 

So it can’t be as easy as it looks, and think it’s more to do with a mix of factors work, family, lifestyle, time, injuries, desire and money. I know lots of those interlink and I’m sure it’s not just one, but it seems that less and less athletes are even making it to competitive middle distance running into their 30’s. Going back to Tony Whiteman, he’s done what lots of road runners use to, by retiring in his early 30’s and coming back out for the attack on the late 30s and then 40 age group. It paid off as he became the first athlete to go sub 4 outdoors for the mile at 40 plus and even ran 1:48 – so a great example to those thinking of coming back. My worry would be if I stop, then I would never get going again! So it’s business as usual and this summer I hope to make it 15 straight seasons at 3:44.51 or better for 1500m and I would like to make it 20 at some point.

So, yesterday my family and I travelled out to Budapest. After a long wait, having booked this back in October after feeling a 10 year reunion with the site of my biggest achievement was too good to pass up!

So rather than just hit the 1500m fresh, I wanted a challenge so I entered the 800m, 1500m and 3000m. The schedule is: 26th 800m Heats, 27th 3000m Final, 28th 800m Final (hopefully), 29th 1500m Heats and 30th 1500m Finals (hopefully).

More to follow tomorrow for instalment 2.

Thanks for reading, 


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Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.

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