Moody close to Olympic qualification on debut

A blistering marathon debut has made Callan Moody an unlikely late Olympic hopeful.

The former Dunedin runner clocked 2hr 11min 39sec to finish second in the Cheshire Elite Marathon last weekend.

It made him the 11th-fastest New Zealander over the distance of all time.

It was also a mere 7sec off the Olympic qualifying time.

Not bad considering it was his first race at the distance.

Moody, who now lives in London, had been isolating with Covid-19 when he was talked into racing.

The 32-year-old got a message from Tony Payne, also from Dunedin and a former flatmate of Moody’s in London, suggesting he give it a go.

It was one of the only races still scheduled at the time, as the UK was still in a lockdown and events were being cancelled.

Payne competed at the last world championships for Thailand over the distance and proved useful in guiding Moody through his training.

Moody increased his mileage over seven weeks and as training went well, he decided to have a go at the Olympic standard.

"I think it was still a pipe dream, really," Moody told the Otago Daily Times from London.

"On race day there were a couple of pace makers that were going out at that speed.

"I thought ‘yeah, I’ll just give it a go and see if I can hold on’.

"I just kept going with the pace. I felt really good and it was all going well until probably the last lap, when I started to cramp up a bit and couldn’t quite maintain the pace to the end."

Moody said the result was "bittersweet", having gone so close to the Olympic time.

However, having never expected to do so well in his first race, he remained "pretty chuffed".

The Olympics remain a possibility, as there is another marathon in four weeks’ time in Vienna.

However, as he had not submitted his name to the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s long list he was unsure if he would be accepted either way.

The marathon was something he would focus on now.

While in Dunedin, running for Ariki and attending Bayfield High School, Moody was a classy middle distance runner on the track.

He moved to the United Kingdom in 2016 and spent two years on a working holiday visa.

During that time he took a break from running, before returning to New Zealand for a year.

Following that he returned to London.

He got back into running, mainly over 10km, while living with fellow former Dunedin runners Payne and Ben Anderson.

He works for the National Health Service as a cardiac physiologist at the The Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea.

Whether he would remain there was uncertain, although he hoped to visit Dunedin next year.

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