DISTANCE running champion Andy Buchanan has earned the H.H. Hunter Athlete of the Year trophy in Flack Advisory Bendigo Region's awards for the 2019-20 season.
Superb performances on the road, track and hills meant the star from University Pride earned the Gill-family sponsored award for a second time.
Buchanan joined high jump aces Joseph Baldwin and Denise Snyder, sprint star Sophie Taylor, and javelin thrower Annabel Thomson as a multiple winner of the Athlete of the Year award.
The recipient of the top honour the previous year, South Bendigo's Emma Berg capped another fine season by being named the Anne Flack Memorial trophy winner as most outstanding junior female.
Pole vault champion James Woods from South Bendigo AC earned the Alby Jack Memorial award for most outstanding junior male athlete.
Highs in 2019-20 for Buchanan included qualifying for the world half marathon championships, silver at the national cross-country 10km championship, and breaking the Bendigo record for 10,000m at the Zatopek 10 track classic.
He won the men's open in Athletics Victoria's XCR action and was the state 15km road champion.
"It was the best season I have had so far," Buchanan said of a year in which he excelled across various distances.
"To be selected in my first Australian team for the world half marathon champs was a huge thrill, as was breaking the Bendigo record for the 10,000m at Zatopek."
Buchanan capped his first hit-out in Japan last December as he won the Year End duel in Tachikawa.
A time of 1:02.50 for the 21.1km journey was the fourth-fastest by an Australian in 2019.
Buchanan is 25th on the list of best times by Australians in a half marathon.
The top 20 includes Echuca's Malcolm Norwood.
A major goal for Buchanan this year was the world half marathon titles to be run in Gdynia, Poland in late March.
The COVID-19 crisis forced the event to be re-scheduled until October.
Although competition is on hold, Buchanan is still racking up plenty of kilometres in training.
A dual national 10km cross-country champion, Buchanan will be aiming to wear the green and gold when Australia hosts the world titles for 10km XC at Bathurst next March.
"Having that goal keeps me motivated to do the early morning training runs, and then in the afternoon.
"A few weeks ago I was battling for motivation, especially as training was by myself or only with one other person.
"My coach, Scott Westcott has always said it's important to have goals, short and long-term.
"You may not achieve every goal, but to try and do so has played a big part in my athletics career."
Buchanan also plays a key role as running coach for the Athlete Development Program at Bendigo South East Secondary College and also through his On-Line Coaching for athletes in many pockets of Australia.
"The progression of those I coach, especially those at ADP, and to see them enjoying their sport and training is the number one goal.
"The message is not to get too caught up in results, but to be in the sport for a long time."
Previous winners of Bendigo's Athlete of the Year title include South Bendigo AC's Tim Driesen, a dual Commonwealth Games representative in hammer throw; and Eaglehawk's Duane Cousins, an Olympian in race walking.