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From overweight smoker to marathon contender

By Paul Gittings, CNN
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Steve Way leads in the Commonwealth Games marathon with the favorites massing behind him.
Steve Way leads in the Commonwealth Games marathon with the favorites massing behind him.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michael Shelley wins first athletics gold of Commonwealth Games
  • Former 20-per-day smoker Steve Way, 40, finishes 10th
  • Way only took up running seven years ago
  • Erraid Davies, 13, stars in swimming pool

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(CNN) -- Seven years ago, Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 230 pounds (104 kilograms). On Sunday, he led the marathon competition against the best in the Commonwealth before finishing a creditable 10th place.

Undaunted by the presence of defending champion John Ekiru Kelai of Kenya and a host of other athletes with faster personal bests, Way took the opportunity afforded by a tentative start by the race favorites to lead the bunch.

Despite the effort, just a glimmer of a smile can be seen on the face of the 40-year-old, who was representing England after a strong showing in the London Marathon in April.

Read: Gay kiss steals show at Games opening

Way admitted that as the Kenyans and eventual winner Michael Shelley of Australia surged he could not keep pace but his story continues to be an inspiration to all couch potatoes approaching a mid life crisis.

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He crossed the line after 42 kilometers in a personal best of two hours 15 minutes 16 seconds and still with a smile on his face despite toiling on a tough course around Glasgow in rainy conditions.

"Best day ever," Way said. "I normally say it's second best to my wedding day but this one matches it. Sarah (his wife) won't mind I think.

Read: Wiggins upstaged at Commonwealth Games

"All my top goals -- top 10, PB, British vet record (for athletes over 40 years of age) -- and I've managed all three. I couldn't have wished for a better day."

Way finished a minute faster than his performance in London, where he was third British finisher behind Mo Farah and Chris Thompson and 15th overall.

Regular training runs, sometimes up to 80km (50 miles), have seen him trim down to a lean 150 pounds as the fast food takeaways and a heavy alcohol intake have become a thing of the past.

The marathon is not even Way's specialist distance.

He will challenge for the world 100km (62 miles) championships in Doha, Qatar in November and with a personal best of six hours 19 minutes 19 seconds, that's six minute six second miles for the entire distance, has a realistic chance of gold.

Shelley was winning the first athletics gold of the Commonwealth Games, improving on his silver from four years ago and with a personal best of two hours 11 minutes 15 seconds.

Behind him, Kelai faded and his compatriot Stephen Chemlany took second with Abraham Kiplimo of Uganda in the bronze medal position.

Read: Bolt ready to race in Glasgow

"It is starting to sink in now," Shelley said. "I dug deep and I was hoping I wouldn't blow-up like I have done in the past."

Later Sunday, the competition on the track began at Hampden Park, with the final of the men's 5,000m, despite the absence of the ill Olympic champion Farah, one of the highlights.

It went to Kenyan Caleb Ndiku, the world indoor 3000m champion, in a time of 13 minutes 12.07 seconds to beat teammate Isiah Koech , with New Zealander Zane Robertson claiming bronze.

Read: Rowsell stands bald and proud again

The crowds at the Games will have to wait for the appearance of Usain Bolt, who has arrived in the Scottish city, but is not slated to run until next Friday's heats of the 4x100m relay for Jamaica.

Home crowds at the swimming pool were able to celebrate their seventh medal of the meeting and it was another fairytale story.

Erraid Davies, a diminutive 13-year-old competitor in the women's para-sport 100m breaststroke, took a superb bronze behind Sophie Pascoe of New Zealand.

Davies, who was born with a chronic hip condition, is the youngest member of the Scottish team, but showed maturity beyond her years to move into the medals after turning sixth.

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