Their own words: big race for Buddy Small
Buddy Small did a bit of running as a youngster, but wasn’t really any good at it. Now he’s off to the world mountain running championships in Argentina.
I’ve always done a bit of running when I was young but was never any good at it. I’d finish midfield, basically just a competitor. Then one race it all just went well, and I surprised myself finishing with the top bunch and from there kept progressing until I started winning.
I started Athletics and Harriers around 11 and really enjoyed it.
I took running up as my main sport around the age of 13-14, competing in athletics over the longer distances. I also kept doing team sports and played rugby when I was still in junior school, as well as playing water polo all the way through and competing in a few team triathlons, doing the running leg.
My first steeplechase was at Southland/Otago Secondary School Champs. I’d been crook the day before, so I was unable to compete in the 3000m on the Friday night, so on the Saturday I competed in the 1500m and then an hour or so later was the 2000m steeplechase.
I didn’t realise I was entered for it anyway. I didn’t win and was well off the pace, but it was one of those races where I wasn’t too worried with the outcome and it didn’t feel as competitive as a 3000m or 1500m. Each athlete had the same mind set: “Just make it over the steeples without falling over and don’t fall in the water pit.”
After that race I decided I’d add the steeplechase to my running programme. Since then the steeplechase became my strongest event placing 2nd in U20 men steeplechase at the NZ Tack & Field champs in Hamilton 2018, 3rd at the NZSSA in Dunedin and finishing my last race for SBHS on a high, then continuing that form with a 2nd place in the U20 men 3000m steeplechase with a 15sec PB in Christchurch, 2019.
Then, in April this year, I ran my second-ever mountain running race, which was put on my training programme as a maybe.
It was held in Wellington and was a NZ championship race. I placed 2nd in the U20 men field. From there I was encouraged to put my name forward by my coach Lance Smith and was lucky enough to be selected as part of the New Zealand team to travel to Argentina for the World Mountain Running Champs.
I’m not the first Southlander to get selected in the New Zealand Mountain Running team, as over previous years Jack Beaumont and Dwight Grieve have also been selected, which is good as I can ask them what to expect.
Leaving school and starting working hasn’t really affected my training, as I used to work on a dairy farm before and after school, and then go back into town and do my training at night.
The only difference is now I work full time and finish a bit later in the afternoon, so I don’t get to train with the rest of the squad as often as I’d like, but I’ve gotten used to running in the dark.
Lance has been a massive help with my training because we have a programme outline and a few goals that we are targeting.
When I travel away sometimes with work there isn’t always a running track, which he understands so we just adjust my training to suit wherever I am. I usually try and find a big field or some rugby fields to run around and do my sessions on.
Recently I’ve started doing most of my long training runs at Forrest Hill and Bluff Hill to try and prepare myself for the course in Argentina as the first 2km has an elevation gain of just over 400m.
There will most likely be a few trips to Queenstown to run up a couple of tracks to try and match the course.