RAISED in a city surrounded by bushland, Bendigo athlete Andy Buchanan has plenty of hills and tracks to train on.
One Tree Hill, Wellsford Forest, and Strathfieldsaye are just some of the areas the cross-country star has racked up thousands of kilometres running to, on, and then back home.
His dedication and skill was capped by being selected in Australia’s team to race the elite 10km at the World Cross-Country Championships in Bathurst this Saturday.
The 31-year-old is a dual national champion at cross-country and led the Bendigo Bats’ dominant run in the past two seasons of Athletics Victoria’s XCR series.
When he toes the start line at Bathurst it will have been 203 days since Buchanan was seventh in the marathon (42.2km) at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
“To be selected for another Australian team means so much,” Buchanan said after a short training run in the Strathfieldsaye bush.
He was fifth in the 10km selection trial run on January 15 in a time of 29.43 at Canberra’s Mount Stromlo.
“It was a strange feeling after the race. I had run well, but only the top three were automatic qualifiers.
“It became a call by selectors, so the wait on a decision was not easy.
“Once the email about selection came through the reflection on the selection trial was so much sweeter.
“To race the World XC Champs was a long-term goal that I and coach (Scott Westcott) set after I won the national title in 2018.”
It had been back-to-back wins by Buchanan.
“Bathurst was going to host the World XC titles in 2021, but they were cancelled because of Covid.”
Now they are back on and have drawn the highest tally of countries to compete in the 44-year history of the event.
Buchanan and his team-mates will be aiming to capitalise on home conditions as Bathurst becomes the first city in Australia to host the World XC Championships.
“Racing on home soil is an advantage we must make the most of,” Buchanan said.
“Bathurst is likely to be a technical course, which suits my style of running.
“Whether it be uneven ground, steep climbs either uphill or downhill, that’s the type of terrain I have grown up training and racing on in Bendigo.
“We are so fortunate in Bendigo to have bush tracks and hills so close to where we live.
“There are about six different areas I train in.
“For a flatter run and maybe work on speed it’s Wellsford Forest near Junortoun.
“I have always liked the steep climbs at One Tree Hill.”
Previous editions of the world XC championships have been run in Edinburgh, Fukuoka, Dublin, Belfast, Durham, Boston, Antwerp, Auckland, New York, Rome, Paris, and Glasgow.
Bathurst in mid-February could also be hot.
“Since Christmas there’s been a lot of training at Falls Creek,” Buchanan said.
“There were two running workouts a day, three times a week.
“I was also spending some time in the sauna because it’s much cooler at Falls than what it is in Bendigo, or likely to be at Bathurst.”
There has been more intense training in the build-up before Buchanan makes his way to Bathurst.
The showdown for the men’s 10km crown at the World XC Championships will be run from 6.30pm on Saturday, February 18.
Day one of the championships includes the 2km mixed relay, under-20 races, and women’s 10km.