By Marcus Uhe
The community of Lynbrook and the Marriott Waters Park Run Club believe they bore witness to a world record last week from one of the club’s youngest participants.
11-year-old Andi Mole has turned heads in the world of Cross Country and in the Lynbrook community, finishing second in the School Sports Australia 11-year-old girls competition at the Australian Cross Country Championships back in August.
With her 11th birthday approaching in late November and her times falling for the five-kilometre circuit at Marriott Waters, former Triathlete and Park Run participant Nathan Buschkuehl began taking note of her exploits and offered to cast an expert eye over Mole’s talents.
So amazed by her speeds, having set a personal best time of 17.32 for the course in recent weeks, Buschkuehl and the organising committee began researching if there was a precedent for someone of her age.
“We couldn’t find official world records but there’s some age ratings online, and it has the 10-year-old best at 18.04 across 60 countries,” Buschkuehl said.
“I got talking to some of the park run organisers at Marriott Waters and said ‘I’m happy to pace her and see what she can do.’
“I was watching her run a couple of weeks prior and she went out too hard and blew up a little bit on the second lap.
“She still ran an incredible time but, being a runner myself, I thought that, if I could pace her, it would be really interesting to see what she could do.”
On Saturday 18 November, days ahead of her 11th birthday, Buschkuehl ran side-by-side with Andi as the required accompanying adult, given her age.
That was, until, Andi left him behind.
While the official world record time is difficult to quantify, the fastest time that they could find was 17 minutes 28 seconds.
“I had a plan to pace her for around 17.15 and we were definitely on track after the first lap,” Buschkuehl said.
“On the second lap I was genuinely struggling to keep up with her.
“It didn’t really become me pacing her, it became her competitiveness and wanting to get this unofficial time.
“She was genuinely giving it a red hot crack for that.
“The second lap or last 2.5 kilometres that we did, I wasn’t actually pacing her, I was trying to keep up.”
The end result? Andi crossed the finish line with the clock reading 17 minutes eight seconds.
That’s a kilometre every three minutes 25 seconds, an absurd speed for anyone, let alone a primary school student.
For context, the women’s World Record for the 5000m is 14 minutes, set by Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay at age 26.
Given her lack of coaching and athletics background, Buschkuehl, who grew up in the athletics world, described Andi as a “genuine talent”.
“When I was running with her, she was a really hard worker,” he said.
“She crossed the line and recovered really quickly.
“She definitely has that competitiveness in her and that drive to have a crack and get the best out of her.
“I think, no matter what sport she chooses to take, I’m sure she can go a long way.”