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New Richmond native Shannon Cody qualifies for 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

Shannon Cody (in red) was all smiles after completing a recent marathon.

Twelve years ago, Shannon Cody followed through on a New Year's Resolution to run her first marathon.

Fast forward to Dec. 4, 2011. Cody ran in the California International Marathon in Sacramento, Calif., where her time of 2:44.51 qualified her to run in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. The Olympic trials will be run on Jan. 14.

Cody is a New Richmond native. She ran her first marathon in 2000, along with her sister, New Richmond High School guidance counselor Beth L'Allier. They completed the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tenn. They completed the 26.2 miles in 4:38.23.

"I guess I was hooked," Cody said.

Cody lives in California, so she and her sister would train together via emails and phone calls. As Cody's interest in running grew, she began to make running friends in her area. As her times began to shrink, she began setting goals. Her first major goal was qualifying for the Boston Marathon. She accomplished that, and the sisters have since run the prestigious Boston race together twice.

Cody's times crept down to 3:30, then down to the 3:00 mark. When her time got down to 2:53, she began thinking that the Olympic qualifying time of 2:46 might be reachable. Last year she focused even harder on her training and ran times of 2:49 and 2:48.

"I really didn't know if I could take off two more minutes," she said.

Cody and two friends trained together for this year's California International Marathon. They practiced at a pace that they knew would make them achieve the 2:46 qualifying time. The CIM course is filled with rolling hills, but Cody said the trio was able to maintain their pace quite well throughout the race. By finishing in 2:44, Cody's mile pace for the race was 6:19 per mile.

Cody said they knew their pace would be cutting it close to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

"We didn't leave any buffer room. The whole race I knew I had to stay in it. By miles 25 and 26 I was so focused on not backing off," she said.

The CIM was the last chance for marathon runners to qualify for the Olympic Trials, so it was a stacked field with many elite runners. Cody said it was an amazing scene at the finish line, when all the runners were greeted with hugs by the runners who had also qualified for the Olympic Trials.

While all the runners in the Olympic Trials will be competing for three spots, Cody said the honor of being able to run in the race is incredible for her. Less than 200 runners nationally qualified for the trials. Cody has the distinction of qualifying as a masters runner, because she is above the age of 40, at 42 years old.

Cody did her first competitive running with the New Richmond High School cross country and track teams under coaches Clark Anderson and Judy Weiss. She said every time she visits New Richmond she enjoys running with the New Richmond Running Club.

"It's my club away from home," she said.

Cody has been a fourth grade teacher the past 14 years. She graduated from UW-River Falls. She was honored as the 2010 San Mateo County Teacher of the Year.

Cody's building principal, Phil Lind, told the San Francisco Examiner "She's very welcoming and encouraging with the kids. She thinks globally, not about her own classroom," he said. "She understands how decisions need to be made with input and she really thinks about the whole school."

Cody said the nomination form for the award was cathartic for her, because she was able to express some of her feelings about her father, Mike, who was fighting a battle against cancer.

"I wanted to do this to honor my dad," she said about pursuing the teaching award. "It was very therapeutic to write about my family and what my mom and dad put into us."

Her family has been highly supportive of her running and many of them are planning to watch her compete at the Olympic trials. Among them are her mom, Kathy Cody, her sister Beth, her brother Bill and her "spousal equivalent," Jim Lewandowski.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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