Andy is back – Australian National 5000m Track Championships in Sydney

Mel Douglass

Congratulations to UNI’s Andy Buchanan on his 4th placing at the Australian National 5000m Track Championships / Sydney Track Classic on Saturday 23rd February. Andy has set a new PB of 13:58 to break the 14 minute mark in rather windy conditions. Finishing 4th to some big names like Gusman, McSweyn and Adams tells us that UNI’s Andy B is back!

Enough of me, for your reading, Andy has been kind enough to provide me with a detailed race report of this event below.

Australian National 5000m Championships/Sydney Track Classic.

“After a disappointing last few races (Zatopek 10 and Cross Country Trials) my coach and I felt I needed to change the focus to mix things up and get back on the track before Summer disappeared. Leading up to Saturday’s race, there was a large amount of hype over Stewy McSweyn making his return to the Australia racing circuit after breaking the Australian 1500m indoor record only the week before overseas. With the class of Stewy (13:05 5000m) in the field I knew this race could be an opportunity to return to form.

Faced with less than ideal conditions, a large field of 23 men toed the line, all hopping to not be the one guy that gets lapped by Stewy. The race started slower than I predicted, with majority of the field still together at 1k in 2:46-48 which worked perfectly for me. After 2k, Stewy broke the field up, running a 61 second 400m which created three packs. I worked hard to get into the second groups, which had me heading through 3k in 8:24.

I struggle to do the math and predict race times while racing (which is probably a good thing) but before the race I had planned to hit 8:20-8:30 and hopefully be feeling right on the limit (you are comfortably very uncomfortable, going any faster and you’d pop).

People say the marathon starts at 30k, in a 5k, the race starts at 3k. I was working hard to catch the group of two who had gradually stretched away from me as I was having to work solo into the headwind each lap. It was frustrating as they were running the same pace as I was, 10metres in front and I knew there was a big pack behind me who could be working together to chase me down.

Going through 2 laps to go and you can’t stop the brain from doing maths. I look across and see 11:49 and straightaway think 800m in 2:10, 2×400 in 65, that sounds doable. The group of two were still 10m in front but I could hear the group behind me getting closer. 400m to go and I had somehow finally caught the two in front, who had also caught the person who was sitting in 3rd (no mans land between the leading two and my pack).

The group of four of us would battle it out for the bronze medal. I didn’t look at the clock as the bell rang but it read 12:56, I had ran 66.97 for that 400m (not a 65 that I was planning one lap earlier).

I can’t remember much of the last lap, I’m not sure if that’s because of the excitement, or the pain. I recall looking up at the clock which roughly 30m to go, Liam Adams had gapped me and was in 3rd. I was in 4th but could sense someone right behind me and I hate giving positions away in the last 100m.

Maybe this is something I learnt from the late Tracy Wilson, who was the last person you want to pass (or attempt to pass) in the last 200m of a club run as he would make you earn it all the way to the line. 30m to go and the clock read 13:52 and that was the first time I knew I’d finally break 14 minutes.

I harnessed my inner Tracy and held my 4th position all the way to the line. It wasn’t until 10 minutes after the race when I saw my coach that I had found out I had ran 13:58. After running 14:01 twice, 14:04, 14:06 and 14:08, I was pretty stoked.

I was also stoked to finish 4th in a National Champs and claim a few scalps that had finished in front of me in the last two races. Jordan Gusman ended up winning the race, sitting on Stewy the whole way until 300m to go. Stewy was 2nd with Liam Adams in 3rd. For those wondering, I managed to run 61.96 for the last 400m (unsure how!).”