After taking huge strides forward in the marathon, Anya Culling has set her long-term sights on qualifying for the 2026 Games in Victoria
One of the most outstanding performances at the 2022 TCS London Marathon happened away from the limelight of the elite races.
Anya Culling, who has been voted as the Altra Most Improved UK Road Runner of the Year in the AW Readers’ Choice Awards, finished as the third British female – behind Rose Harvey and Hannah Alderson – on the streets of the British capital in October.
The Best Athletics athlete clocked 2:36:21, which was just short of two hours quicker than her 2019 best of 4:34:23 along the same route, a remarkable rise.
“It’s been absolutely crazy,” says the ecstatic 24-year-old. “I still pinch myself and it has been the best year of my life. Everything has clicked together in this jigsaw puzzle.
“I don’t think I’ll ever do a marathon that I enjoyed that much ever again. It was so amazing. I knew I was in good shape but I didn’t know how well I was going to do.
“I still don’t know my potential or limits so every race is just pushing for a personal best. The sky is the limit. I’ve never raced and not got a personal best over any distance. That’s actually mad.”
After making her marathon debut in London three years ago, Culling took up running more seriously to keep fit and for her mental health during the three lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic. She lost a lot of her confidence in that period and went for runs with her dog in the forest.
Since then, she has completed three other marathons – Manchester, Valencia and Rome – and has consistently achieved personal bests in every race. Her immediate aim is to try and break the 2:30 mark and has sacrificed tickets at next year’s Rugby World Cup to race in Berlin, one of the fastest marathons in the world.
If Culling, who has a full-time job in sports advertising and does coaching part-time, can lower her personal best any further then she might well find herself being mentioned among the British elites in the not too distant future.
Her long-term ambition is to compete at the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
“You’ve got to dream big,” she adds, with a beaming smile. “I’d love to win a Great Britain or England vest. I’m now really fired up and, because this year has been so crazy, I just want to continue riding this wave.
“My mum started a wedding fund which isn’t on the horizon and she’s now changed the name of the fund to Commonwealth Games 2026. She was like ‘we’re going to Australia and you’re not getting married’ and I was like ‘I’m fine with that!’”
» This article first appeared in the December issue of AW magazine