BENDIGO University Pride champion Andy Buchanan faces a huge challenge to claim back-to-back wins in Friday night's 5km Frenzy at the Bendigo Regional Athletics Complex in Flora Hill.
Buchanan, 30, set the open record of 14:21.86 in last year's Frenzy victory.
Frenzy promoter Brett Gilligan said the second running of the classic organised by Bendigo Harriers at the Retreat Road track played a big part in the club's 100th year celebrations.
The under-20 men's record of 14:59.02 was set by South Bendigo's Archie Reid in last year's Frenzy.
The Moama-based athlete will aim to go under the national qualifying mark of 14:25.
A year ago, Ellie Pashley set the women's open record of 16:08.63 on her way to racing in the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Bendigo Centre under-20 record of 17:42.1 was set on January 14, 2003 by South Bendigo's Clare McKechnie.
The elite men's 5000m showdown will be run 9pm.
Racing begins at 6.30pm when a 1000m race for under-14s is run and be followed by three graded 5000m heats at 6.45pm, 7.30pm and 8pm.
The elite women's 5km Frenzy is on at 8.30pm.
Gilligan said the classic had drawn quality fields.
"There is a strong chance the track records held by Andy Buchanan and Ellie Pashley since last year's races could be broken," he said.
"Although Andy has has home-track advantage he will be up against Glenhuntly's Ben Kelly who was third in the first 5km Frenzy.
"Ben has competed at the world cross-country championships and has a personal best of 14:13.
"Harry Smithers has raced internationally and has a PB of 14:38."
A stress reaction in his thigh hampered Buchanan's lead-up to the Zatopek 10,000m run on Australia Day at Melbourne's Lakeside Stadium.
"His run at Zatopek was conservative by his normal standards," Gilligan said of Buchanan's time of 30:08.87 to be 10th .
"He is a brilliant runner, but may be underdone, which opens the door for other athletes."
There is a strong chance the track records held by Andy Buchanan and Ellie Pashley since last year's races could be broken.- Brett Gilligan
Reid, Nathan Stoate and Brady Threlfall who are all team-mates of Buchanan with Bendigo Bats in Athletics Victoria's cross-country series will put the pressure on.
South Australia's Cael Mulholland will compete.
The 17-year-old is aiming to break his state's under-18 record.
"A new women's champion will be crowned as Ellie Pashley will not be racing," Gilligan said.
Possible favourites for the elite women's 5km include Sarah Klein who ran the marathon at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
"Sarah has a personal best of 16:19 in the 5000 metres," said Gilligan.
Another runner to watch will be Amy Carrig, personal best of 17.25.
Bendigo Harriers' clubmates Jill Wilkie and Alice Wilkinson will be keen to perform well, and the race will be a great experience for Bendigo University's Rebecca Wilkinson and South Bendigo rising star Taryn Furletti.
The night is aimed at families and others who may have never been to an athletics meet.
There will be food trucks loaded with hot food and a sausage sizzle.
Soft drink and water can be bought, and there will be a beer tent.
"Along the front straight there will be an even longer series of marquees, with runners now racing through a 35 metre long tunnel," Gilligan said.
"The crowd will be out in lane four.
"It should be an amazing feeling."
Entry tally stands at 87 across the night's races.
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