Andrew Butchart has been having an amazing season. In this column. Alex Mill visited with Andrew after his brilliant fourth and huge PB over 3000 meters in Birmingham last weekend. Alex will be covering the British Trials for RunBlogRun as well.
Mo Farah rightly enjoyed the arduous applause and signed many autographs, following yet another British record at the Birmingham DL last weekend. Back in the mixed zone, however, one of the nation’s newest distance stars was revelling after another top class performance and personal best, in a slightly more downplayed manor. Finishing in 4th behind Farah in the men’s 3,000m at the Birmingham Diamond League, Scotland’s Andrew Butchart obliterated his personal best by around 25 seconds to break the Scottish record and continue his brilliant breakthrough season in the Olympic year.
Coming into 2016 Butchart’s biggest track achievement was racing at the European Team Championships. Now he stands a very realistic chance of making it to Rio and potentially even the final of the 5,000m.
Again in Birmingham last weekend, Butchart, who two weeks ago broke the Scottish record for 5,000m in Hengelo by running 13.13.30, despite seeing his shoe fall off on the penultimate lap, showed fearlessness and grit. Daring to chase, challenge and beat one of the three top class Kenyans in the field.
Rather than stick with the comfort of the chasing pack Butchart raised his knees, pumped his arms and set about on his own personal mission, catching his rivals with a lap to go. Proving his ability to both race and run fast. Speaking afterwards the delighted athlete said: “I’m happy with that one, good to get it done. I just sat on Brett Robinson, I just thought he’s really fast, he’s really fit. Then we kind of got a little bit of a gap and I just thought ‘I can go’ so and eventually I got them and before you knew it, it’s the last lap.”
After another top run, to back up Hengelo and the quick fire double success in Westminster the previous weekend, where he followed up a 4:00 road mile with a 28.28 10k, Butchart is in the form of his life. Though it’s something he’s known he’s capable of for a while: “Generally I’ve been training really hard. I work my arse off, and training’s been going really well. In training sessions we know I can run fast, it’s just loads of guys train fast and don’t run well. So it’s nice to actually show it on the track when you’re competing.”
Given his rapid rise from a top level cross country runner to a track star, many have asked Butchart what the big difference has been in 2016. Still, he admits even he doesn’t know: “Everyone’s asked me that I don’t know, I think it’s just a lot of things that add up; you sleep better, you train better, you rest better. It’s just like that sort of thing.”
Many would put it down to a more professional basis to his training this year. Not only has he become a New Balance sponsored athlete, but the Scotsman spent two months in the altitude hotspot of Flagstaff this year as he began to train full-time. Though he says he is not one usually to read into the scientific side of the sport, after appreciating the benefits of his training to the full, Butchart admits he will now have to put more faith into both altitude and science.
After putting his ability to perform so well in such a period of time, partly down to momentum, the runner will be hoping that his good form continues to roll all the way into Rio, should he get there, but firstly, and perhaps more importantly the Olympic Trials at the Alexander Stadium, which take place during the last week of this month.
With two qualifying times in hand, Butchart only needs to finish in the top two of the 5,000m to secure his place in Rio, nevertheless he is taking nothing for granted going into the race, especially with both Johny Davis and Tom Farrell also possessing the qualifying times. Nevertheless, the 24 year-old knows what he wants to do should he make the team: “I’m not there yet I’m still a bit of a way off so I don’t want to look that far ahead, but I guess if I get there I want to compete, I want to actually get involved, compete and try to get to the final and then see what I can do in the final.”
On his most recent showing he is more than capable of doing that.