BENDIGO University Athletics Club’s Nathan Crowley was not far from breaking an Australian 45-plus record in the 800m at the latest round of the Victorian Milers Club action at Box Hill. Crowley ran a superb time of 1:59.39 for the two-lap showdown in his third Milers meet hit-out of the 2020-21 track season.

A newcomer to Uni Pride, Crowley was fourth in the D-grade 800m won by Mentone’s Matt Gough in 1:57.25 in the fourth Milers meet held last Tuesday night at the Elgar Road complex. The national 45-plus record of 1:58.6, manual time, was achieved in 1987. The residential record for 800m in the 45-plus division for 800m is 1:59.11 set by Neil Macdonald of Bendigo Harriers in Eugene, Oregon in 1989. The Centre record of 2:02.32 was set in March, 2005 by Eaglehawk’s Terry Hicks.

A retired Lieutenant Colonel with the Australian Army, Crowley was rapt with his latest race.

“I had run 1:59, but it was a few years ago,” Crowley said. His best time for the 800m is 1:52.

Crowley first started racing at 17, but Army commitments, which included stints in Timor and Afghanistan, meant he did not compete for many years. The 47-year-old returned to athletics five years ago and has great support from wife Lauren and daughters Sarah and Alicia. The Crowley family has settled in Bendigo, with Nathan’s time away from athletics focused on writing books.

His comeback to athletics was through the 2016 World Masters track and field titles in Perth.

“I had run a couple of half marathons (21.1km), but decided to have another go at the track.”

He ran third in the M40 800m in the west.

“It was great to be back training and racing.”

Two years later and Crowley headed to Malaga, Spain for the World Masters.

He won his M45 400m heat in 54.66 and was fourth in the semi in 53.53.

Crowley did not contest the 1500m, but teamed with Mark Giglio, Shane Ezard and Andrew Wilcox to win the M45 4 x 400m relay in 3:30.42.

This spring/summer, Crowley has competed on the Victorian Athletics League circuit.

His lead-up included an 800m at one of the Welcome Back rounds run by Flack Advisory Services Group-backed Athletics Bendigo Region at the Flora Hill track.

Since then he has won the Masters (35-plus) 300m and the open 1600m at Wangaratta, and was runner-up in the Masters 300m at the Parkdale Gift.

Crowley will be aiming to run well at the re-scheduled Warrnambool carnival on the Labour Day holiday weekend, the Castlemaine Gift, and then Stawell.

Victory in the Mile at Stawell in 2019 was one of many highlights.

“It’s an amazing track to race on,” Crowley said of Central Park.

“The surface is so well-kept and thousands of spectators help build an incredible atmosphere,” he said of the Easter tradition.

The Mark Hipworth-coached athlete said the focus in the first half of the VAL season was on 800m and 1500m, but was likely to move to 400m and 800m.

“I am looking to be a bit sharper, especially for the High Velocity 400m.”

In many ways, Crowley is again enjoying the challenge of working toward being faster each time he runs.