BENDIGO University’s Andy Buchanan retained his crown as Victoria’s cross-country champion in Saturday’s duel at Bundoora Park.
The 26-year-old won the 10km clash in a time of 31.01 and was more than 100 metres clear of his nearest rival at the finish line.
A superb day for Flack Advisory Bendigo Region athletics included a gold medal for South Bendigo’s Taryn Furletti in the under-15s race and a bronze medal for clubmate Yazmin Hayes in the under-16 division of the Victorian All Schools championships.
Furletti studies at Kilmore International School, and Hayes at Rochester Secondary College.
Buchanan said the form and strength he had after a track racing program in the United States earlier in the year played a major role in his Victorian cross-country championship victory.
“I had a fair amount of confidence going into the race.
“There was the pressure of being last year’s winner, but I was not daunted by that.”
The undulating hills proved to be a great test for every competitor.
A key to Buchanan’s win was a surge on an uphill section about the 3km mark.
He had “sat amongst” the lead pack on the opening two kilometres, but then decided to up the pace.
Although rivals chased they could not catch Bendigo’s ace.
“As the race went on I tried not to think about what’s going on behind me,” Buchanan said.
He was rapt with the performances of Bendigo athletes, not only as individuals, but as a team in Athletics Victoria’s XCR series.
“To be wearing the Bendigo singlet means a lot,’’ Buchanan said.
“Every athlete from Bendigo raced really well at Bundoora, especially the juniors in the All Schools champs.
“It’s great to see the juniors racing so well against the state’s best.
“They are the future of the sport.”
Buchanan’s victory earned selection as Victoria’s number one runner for the national XC champs to be run in Wollongong in New South Wales on August 26.
It will be his third nationals campaign.
“Wollongong is a purpose-built course. It will be the first time I have raced there,” Buchanan said.
A lot of Buchanan’s training in recent weeks has focused on the Gold Coast half-marathon to be contested on July 2.
“I have raced the 10km on the Gold Coast five or six times, but this will be my first in the half-marathon,” he said of the step up to the 21.1km distance.
Once the Gold Coast half-marathon is done, Buchanan may look at racing the Sandown Relays.