KENNINGTON-based distance runner Andy Buchanan is gearing up to contest his first marathon a long way from home.
Buchanan, 31, will be among the thousands of runners in the Hamburg Marathon on April 24.
He touched down in London last weekend and is based in Teddington, adjacent to Bushy Park for his training sessions.
"Bushy is quite big and flat, so I am doing most of my runs in there or linking up with other nearby parks," Buchanan said.
"It's really different to the usual hilly bush runs in Bendigo."
A goal for 2022 was to contest a marathon before mid-year.
"Gold Coast is ran the start of July, so if I did that I knew I'd have to travel overseas, too," said Bendigo University Pride's gun runner.
"Europe has some great marathons and really classy fields.
"A training partner, coached by Scott Westcott and lives in Canberra, told me late last year he was keen to do Hamburg.
"He has battled injury since. I looked up the details and saw the timing of it, during the school holidays.
"Winning times were closer to 2:08 instead of the Berlin Marathon which is closer to 2:02.
"I managed to get some assistance with the race, so then it was locked in."
Cancellations and injury meant Buchanan missed racing on the Gold Coast and then Melbourne.
"I have a few goals for this marathon.
"The first is to be able to get one done," he said of racing the 42.2km distance.
"I'd also like to put a time on the board that puts me into the discussion for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
"If I run 2:13 or 2:14, I think this would be a great start.
"However, marathons are a long way and a lot can go right or wrong, so I'm not focusing on hitting an exact time."
Buchanan is now in his third marathon training block.
"The training is tough, but also a great learning experience.
"I know what the sessions should feel like, know how my body should feel and feel a lot fitter and stronger having had those two previous training build-ups.
"The last month or two of a marathon block is always big.
"I have averaged around 170km per week for those weeks, with my largest training week being 183km."
I'd also like to put a time on the board that puts me into the discussion for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.- Andy Buchanan
Buchanan's parents, Alan and Jenny have competed in many marathons across the world.
"They do pass on advice, but our marathon experience will be incredibly different.
"They are used to running in the middle of the pack, not having personalised drinks and never did the amount of training volume I did.
"But one thing Dad has mentioned many times is the marathon starts at 35km."
Key players in the preparation for Hamburg have been Scott Westcott and Nic Bideau.
"Scott is the most influential in getting me ready and prepared.
"He does a lot of work through messages and phone calls to give me my program.
"Nic played a critical role in setting up the assistance from Hamburg marathon and I am staying in his apartment here in London.
"Team-mates from the Bendigo Bats cross-country team also played a big role.
"They all make the hard sessions that little bit easier.
"Matt and Ned Buckell have ran with me, or kept me company by the riding the bike as they ran the many 6:30am Friday training sessions out in Huntly."
All those hours of training have played a big part in Buchanan's success in cross-country, on the road, or track.
Round one in Athletics Victoria's XCR series is on May 7 at Jells Park.
"It would be great to be back in time for Jells Park, especially Bendigo moving up to premier division," Buchanan said.
"At the moment my key focus is Hamburg, so I'm not thinking too much about the team.
"We do have a great squad of athletes to choose from."
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