Josh Harris qualifies for world athletics championship marathon

Park run: Josh Harris, pictured training with Kate Pedley, will contest the marathon at this year's world championships. Picture: Scott Gelston
Park run: Josh Harris, pictured training with Kate Pedley, will contest the marathon at this year's world championships. Picture: Scott Gelston

Despite six consecutive Tasmanian 10,000-metre titles and nine on the trot over 5000m, Josh Harris said he has come to the realisation that his optimum distance is the marathon.

The Launceston runner said this on the day he was confirmed in the Australian team for the athletics world championships but said he made his mind up when he set the qualifying time.

“I think I officially became a marathoner in Lake Biwa,” said Harris who ran a personal best 2:17:08 at the Japanese event in March, nearly two minutes inside the qualification standard.

“In hindsight that ended up being the race for the team between me and the next placed Australian [Jack Colreavy, of NSW] because he has been named as first reserve so it was a really important result.

“Ever since I was a young kid I’ve been looking for my best event. Initially I thought it was steeplechase but it turns out it was the marathon.

“I’ve probably picked the hardest event but I think it suits me and that’s what I’ll be from now on.”

A teacher at Kings Meadows High School, the 26-year-old has a total of 29 state athletics titles and is delighted to be joining Launceston-born Sydney-based Milly Clark who was the highest-placed Australian in the Rio Olympic marathon.

“I’ve been looking through the Tasmanian representatives in athletics events at the Olympics, world championships and Commonwealth Games and there have not been many from the North,” Harris said. “I cannot think of any since I was born.

“So it’s going to be great being there with Milly. We’re pretty good friends and I’m looking forward to catching up with her about making the team.”

Harris and Clark join Jeff Hunt, Brad Milosevic (both NSW), Sinead Diver (Victoria) and Jessica Trengove (South Australia) as marathon representatives after Victorians Lisa Weightman and Liam Adams and Queenslander Michael Shelley advised they were focusing instead on next year’s Commonwealth Games.

They join Harris’s University of Tasmania Athletics Club teammate Hamish Peacock who is among the 26 athletes already confirmed in the Australian team for the championships in London from August 4-13. 

Harris, whose training program around Launceston involves up to 240km per week, couldn’t wait to make his first visit to the UK on a course showcasing the capital’s tourism hotspots.

“I’m over the moon. It’s been a long wait and I was not totally sure until I got the call this week so it’s a mixture of relief and excitement. It’s probably the most ideal place possible for me. I chose not to run the London Marathon this year to try and qualify elsewhere and save the London experience and that’s how it has turned out.”