A START in the marathon at next year’s Birmingham Commonwealth Games or world athletics titles in the USA is the goal for Bendigo athletics champion Andy Buchanan.
The Australian 10km cross-country champion in 2017 and ’18, Buchanan’s pursuit for Games or world champs selection will heat up in the Melbourne Marathon on December 12.
The 42.2km marathon at the world titles in Eugene, Oregon will be on July 17.
Less than two weeks later and the Commonwealth Games showdown is on July 30.
Three athletes will represent Australia in these events.
Buchanan has raced against this year’s Tokyo Olympics marathon runners Liam Adams, Brett Robinson and Jack Rayner on road, track and cross-country.
Despite a year rocked by many races being called off because of Covid lockdowns, Buchanan has kept up plenty of training.
“It’s been tough for so many sports, including athletics, but the great thing is being able to train without too many hassles,” said Bendigo University Pride’s number one distance runner.
A major goal for Buchanan in 2020 was to contest his first marathon at the Gold Coast Running Festival.
The race was called off just a few days before after a Covid outbreak.
“It was really disappointing after the amount of work that went in,” Buchanan said of a training block of up to 180km a week.
“You cannot sustain marathon training for a long time. It’s not just the distances you are running, but also the pace you run at,” he said.
“It’s at those times you look at the bigger picture.”
Like many athletes, Buchanan has battled for motivation to train at different times of the year.
“There have been highs and lows. On some days or weeks the motivation to train was lower. As an athlete a lot is goal-oriented toward a race.
“The build-up is great, but when a race is not happening for various reasons then that’s not so easy to deal with.”
Buchanan and Newcastle-based coach Scott Westcott, who was fourth in the marathon at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, have drawn up another training block leading into December.
“The intensity of training dropped after Gold Coast, but will now build up again,” said Buchanan who went not running is athletics coach for the Athlete Development Program at Bendigo South East Secondary College in Flora Hill.
Last summer he won the inaugural 5km Frenzy on the Bendigo track and also went on to claim fifth place in the Zatopek 10,000m which doubled as the national titles showdown.
Buchanan made a flying start to this year’s cross-country series run by Athletics Victoria.
He was first and fastest in the 6km teams relay at Jells Park and also triumphed in the 8km at Lardner Park and 12km at Cruden Farm.
Buchanan led the race for the champion athlete award as Bendigo Bats led men’s divisions two, four and seven, and were second in women’s division four.
Bendigo’s juniors were also to the fore in the under-20, 18 and 16 age groups.
The top four in the men’s open country athlete award was Buchanan and Bendigo team-mates Brady Threlfall, Nathan Stoate and Archie Reid.
“It was great to see so many athletes racing so well for Bendigo Region,” Buchanan said of the XCR ’21 series.
“Hopefully, the momentum rolls on next season.”
This article was first published in the Bendigo Advertiser.