Less than six months after knee surgery Canberra walker Matt Griggs (ACT) claimed the Australian 50km Road Walk Championship at Fawkner Park on Sunday.
As most of the elite walkers were on a break following their Olympic campaigns Griggs was the only man in the field, making his solo time of 4:36:14 even more impressive.
The 38-year-old has been based in Armenia and upon his most recent trip back home in June he made a bold plan to get fit enough to line up for the longest race in track and field.
In early July he clocked a time of 12min 43sec for a 2km road walk but pushed on from there to eventually lose 15kg, which saw him line up on the weekend tipping the scales at just 80 kilograms.
“Six months ago I’d actually just had knee surgery living in Armenia, weighed about 95 kilos and I came back to Australia after my wife got a visa and started training in June,” Griggs told AthsVicTV after the race.
“I wanted to walk 50 kilometres, and I set myself that goal and just wanted to come here and race – obviously I had no idea I’d be doing it by myself.
“Lucky for me, good timing all the Olympic guys were having a rest, and I’m here.
“You know 50K, respect to the distance it’s a bloody long way, anyone that’s done it props to you – after 30K I didn’t look at the time, I just tried to keep going.”
Griggs was a top junior walker in the late ‘90s, taking bronze in the 1996 Australian U18 8km walk and silver in the 1997 Australian U20 20km, before leaving the sport and later living for a period overseas in Armenia.