Welshman Jamie Jones will be hitting the roads over the next 12 months, after deciding to run a marathon in 2022 for WST’s official charity Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home.
After negotiating Q School at the beginning of last season, world number 55 Jones enjoyed a strong first campaign back on the main circuit. He reached the semi-finals of the Scottish Open in December and qualified for the Crucible in April, beating Stephen Maguire at the Theatre of Dreams and losing out to Stuart Bingham in the last 16.
Jones admitted at Crucible qualifying that he has been aided by his renewed devotion to running. However, he is now bidding to participate in a 26.2 mile race for the first time.
We spoke with Jamie about why he has decided to take on this challenge and to reflect on his current form on the baize…
Jamie, what has drawn you to go for a marathon next year and how much are you looking forward to the challenge?
“I’ve had two months off since the Crucible and although I’ve now started practising again, the only thing I’ve really had my mind on has been the running. I’m actually training with a friend of mine called Paul Williamson, who is running the London Marathon for Anthony Nolan in a couple of months. I just tag along when I feel like it and he is around my standard. If he struggles on a run, then I struggle. I looked at his workload and thought why not try and push myself as well?
“If you aren’t aiming to do something better than you already are in life, then you are standing still. I want to give myself a bit of time to train and go for it next year, so I haven’t decided which marathon I’m running yet. I wanted to do it for the WST charity Jessie May and they are delighted that I want to do this. Since speaking to them, I’ve really looked into the charity and the crucial work they do and it has taken on a new meaning for me. I really want to help them out. They provide so much help for children and their families who are in very tragic circumstances and give vital support.
“Just over 16 miles is the furthest I’ve been so far. At the moment I’m just an enjoyment runner really. I’ve never stuck to a proper plan for any length of time. This will take on a whole new thing for me with the running. If you are fit enough, I think you can wing a half marathon. After that 16 mile run, I felt like I didn’t have one more mile in my legs. To get up to 26.2, I’m obviously going to have to train specifically for this. I’m looking forward to it and it will be something different.
“I signed up for my first half marathon six years ago and I’ve done one pretty much every year since then. It’s always been in the back of my mind that one day, before I am too old, I want to do a full marathon. I think the time is right now. I feel more focussed and dedicated than I’ve ever been. I just want to push and see what I can achieve. To do a marathon, you have to get off your backside and work for it. No amount of equipment can help you. It will definitely be one of the biggest achievements of my life.”
Snooker MC and broadcaster Rob Walker is a marathon runner and athletics commentator, will you be seeking out his advice before beginning your training?
“I’ve always got on well with Rob, he’s such a lovely guy. During the World Championship qualifiers I spoke to him a few times at breakfast and he was telling me about the runners which he has met while doing the commentary on athletics. I was quite star-struck thinking that he has met people like Eliud Kipchoge. I just run around my pond and he has met the greatest of all-time. I’ll definitely have a chat with him about it, because he knows what it takes to do it and I don’t.”
How much has running helped you out with your snooker?
“The running has certainly helped me with my snooker. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been. For about ten years on the tour, I didn’t do any exercise at all and was eating burgers. Every other professional sportsman will have routines and nutrition plans. I’ve realised that I am a sportsman and I need to be giving myself the best possible chance of success. I just want to see what life is like to be that little bit fitter and eat that little bit better. I want to help Jessie May out by doing this. Hopefully it can help me out as well.
“The thing with running is that it has also stabilised my snooker practice regime. I used to be up and down and put the work in when I felt like it. I look at my friend training for this marathon and he is so regimented. He has a plan and it isn’t about when he feels like it. These plans are structured to get you fit in the right way. It has made me look at my snooker. Whether I want to put the work in or not, I have to do it. There is a parallel with snooker.”
How pleased were you to cap off last season by qualifying for the World Championship and reaching the last 16?
“Coming into the World Championship I genuinely thought I would qualify. I knew if I wasn’t going to, then it would take a good player and a good performance to beat me. I went into it with that frame of mind. I was 4-2 down to David Lilley in my first game and he was playing so well. I managed to turn it around and that is what has helped me, my attitude. I then beat Michael Holt and Li Hang. Those were three excellent wins.
“It was just brilliant to play in the final stages again. I’ve played at the Crucible a few times before, but it is so special. Just getting called out into the arena is an event in itself. You go through that, sit in your chair and you have to find a way of calming yourself down before playing. I’ve been there several times now and I’ve won a few games. I’ve got some experience there and I know what it takes in that two-table setup.
“I played pretty solidly against Stephen, he’s an excellent player, so to win through 10-4 is a really great result. I played alright against Stuart, but his scoring was a bit too much. I actually said to him after the match that his scoring was the best I’ve ever played against. It was just how he made me feel. Every time he got in, it was as if all of the balls were over the pockets. He was just superb. I genuinely thought he’d win the tournament. I said to my dad when I came off it would take some performance to beat him. Selby is a class act himself and he managed it in the semi-finals.”
How do you feel ahead of the upcoming season?
“I know that I’m borderline a top player when I get my consistency going. My consistency is there at the moment. I’m just looking to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to beat me. When I’m playing well, I can let the reins off and I’m a good scorer. I’m going to go at it like I normally would, give every tournament my best and see what happens.”