Andrew Butchart celebrates National XC win at Falkirk in February (photo by Bobby Gavin)
It was one of Scotland’s longest-standing track and field bests – with Nat Muir’s National Record for 5000m stretching back to the Olympic Year of 1980.
But Andrew Butchart took that down on a wet afternoon in Hengelo, Holland, with the Olympics in Rio firmly on his radar.
Butchart clocked a superb 13.13.30 to take more than four seconds of the best set all those years ago by legendary figure Muir as the ‘Class of 2016’ once again proved they measure up to the past.
In doing so, Butchart claimed a second GB and NI Olympic qualifying standard be getting inside 13.24 and now ‘all’ he has to do is finish in the top two at the British Champs in Birmingham next month to make the plane to Rio. Eilish McColgan is now in a similar position after also landing a second standard for 5000m in Hengelo.
And Central AC’s Andrew even managed to top Muir’s time (13.17.9) despite racing the last lap in Holland in only one shoe – in the manner of another icon, Brian Whittle.
‘Nat Muir’s record has been around for a very long time,’ Butchart told scottishathletics from Hengelo on Sunday evening.
‘I didn’t think about it California a couple of weeks ago when I went close but my coach and I did say last week that if the race in Holland was as fast as we thought it might be, then there may well be a chance to PB and take the Record.
‘Getting the second Olympic qualifier was the priority, however. We couldn’t really see another race opportunity between now and Birmingham to get a second one but now I can go there with the pressure off in terms of chasing the time.
‘Others can still spoil the party for me, I guess, but I definitely think that for the likes of myself and Eilish, who is in the same situation, we’ve take away one of the barriers.
‘The race was fast and I knew with about 800m to go that I’d get the National record. It wasn’t the worst feeling in the world, I must admit!’
Inter-Counties XC success back in 2015 hinted at what was to come from Butchart
What was troubling Andrew, however, were loose laces in his spikes.
‘Before you ask, I had them tied properly – nice and tight – at the start,’ he said.
‘But it was wet and the rain seemed to loosen them as the race went on. It wasn’t quite like running in flip-flops but it was getting to be a problem.
‘With 400 to go I looked down the right shoe was completely loose and my heel was in danger of coming free. I just had to kick that one off and away and get on with it. I was thinking ‘this isn’t the best time for this to be happening’.
‘But you just get on with things, don’t you? Lots of things can happen in athletics and you have to try and stay focused.’
Stay focused Butchart assuredly did on what was another remarkable weekend for Scottish athletes at venues like Highgate, Hengelo and Morocco.
Eilish had run 15.16.51 earlier in her 5000m race to finish sixth and get a second Olympic standard. Josephine Moultrie was in the same race and clocked 16.05 for 11th place.
Steph Twell raced in the 1500m and recorded 4.10.90 for seventh place. There were sixth places for Allan Smith in the high jump (2.15m) and Guy Learmonth and 800m (1.47.23).
Meanwhile, in Rabat, Lynsey Sharp went to the top of the British rankings wth her first 800m outdoor run of the season.
The Diamond League field was stacked to say the least and Lynsey’s sub-two run of 1.59.51 gave her fifth place in a race won at 1.56.64 by Caster Semanya.
Lynsey tweeted later: ‘Solid season opener at 1.59.51. Big shoutout to Eilish McColgan and Andy Butchart for stunning performances #scotsareflying.’