Veteran campaigner Bob Freeland broke an unprecedented run of four consecutive wins by the club’s female runners when he scored a plucky win in the eight kilometre David O Jones Mitre 10 Handicap at Stawell last Saturday.
Despite clutching at a suspicious hamstring in the first kilometre of the race, Bob overcame his injury concerns to make amends for his last gasp defeat at Haven Hall the previous week.
On the flat and fast cross country course that skirts the Bungally Creek at Haven, Meg Parnaby had staved off Bob’s spirited finish to score by a mere 1 second to follow in the footsteps of Rhonda Clark, Selina Heard-Price and Susie Ellis who had inflicted a month-long drought on the males.
On hillier terrain in the Ironbarks Forest, Bob, who has revised his training regimen to shed up to five kilograms in recent weeks, ground out the kilometres with typical resolution to set up too big a break on the chasers.
Col Barnett stormed through the field to record best time of 31 minutes 9 seconds, but on adjusted handicaps was 29 seconds in arrears of the winner, with Gaynor Radovic first of the females to finish a further 19 seconds behind.
In his determination to win the battle of the bulge this season, Bob has taken up swimming at Stawell’s North Park Leisure Centre.
“I swim up to 40 laps of the pool, which helps keep the body supple and even just walking in the pool seems to help with the usual aches and pains,” he said.
“I still train at the Big Hill (Stawell) and do an LSD run (long, slow, discipline) for 90 minutes each week and you have to do these things to keep yourself competitive.”
Like Rhonda Clark a fortnight before, Bob used Keith Lofthouse as his “bunny”, keeping that struggling runner in his sights all the way to help propel him to a win.
Twelve-year-old Raine Mackley ran a sparkling 18 minutes 15 seconds over four kilometres to make a one-act affair of the junior division of the race.
The slightly-built Raine, who trains at Pomonal’s Mount Cassel, has a promising future but hasn’t set himself any lofty goals so far.
“I like running with the athletics club and I like to support fun runs for kids with cancer,” the well-spoken youngster said.
By Keith Lofthouse