Andy Buchanan successfully defended his national cross country title. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

BENDIGO athlete Andy Buchanan has successfully defended his Australian Cross Country Championships crown in a scintillating performance on the Sunshine Coast last weekend.

Buchanan became the first male to defend his title in 20 years, holding off South Australian Riley Cocks by 14 seconds with Ed Goddard in third.

After winning last year in Wollongong, Buchanan proved too strong on the hilly, 10-kilometre course at Maleny Golf Club despite his race not going to script.

“It’s incredible really, you don’t realise until a few days after when it really starts to sink in that you are the national champion,” Buchanan said.

“It was an interesting race though, it didn’t play out as I thought it would at all – I thought there would be a big pack through that first two or three kilometres.

“Because it was so hilly, I thought everyone would be a bit stand offish but Harry Summers, who is known to be a front runner, charged out and I went with him and didn’t let him get too far away but then I found my self in the lead and just kept on with it.

“To be an Australian champion is something that can never be taken away from you and something that I have worked extremely hard for over the last few months.”

Buchanan travelled to the championships with fellow locals Jayden Padgham and Tullie Rowe.

The two Bendigo South East College students performed strongly, Padgham 11th in the 12/13-year-old boys and Rowe finishing 26th in the 14/15 girls.