It was a race for the ages (and ages) when three rising septuagenarians fought out the finish of the five kilometres David O Jones Mitre 10 Handicap at Stawell last Saturdaykilometres
Jenkins, seventy in August, staved off the challenges of “youngsters” Stephen Baird, 66, and Keith Lofthouse, 68, to win his first race with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club in 16 years.
Between them, the placegetters have chalked up more than 100 years of competitive running and at least a thousand races; Jenkins and Lofthouse have run multiple marathons, while Baird boasts “around 20” professional track wins over distances up to 400 metres.
“I forget my last win,” Jenkins said. “It had to be sometime around 2001 because I was in Germany the next year with my wife and haven’t been back to the club since. On and off I’ve been with them for about 30 years, but you can’t say this is a comeback, because I’ve had heaps of those. “
Jenkins was clocking up to 130 kilometres a week when he was training with Baird and Ray Scott, who died tragically in the Stawell Ironbarks in 2010.
“I still miss my old mate. Steve and I both had long careers as motor mechanics, and that plus a lot of hard training puts a huge strain on the body. Sometimes you lose interest.”
The wiry Jenkins played as a rover with the Stawell Swifts from 1964 and won their Best and Fairest in 1973-74. “In those days we jokingly referred to it as the ‘Worst and Dirtiest,’” he said.
Receiving a minute’s start from Lofthouse under the handicap conditions of the Mitre 10, Jenkins knew he had to stick on the tail of his steady-going club mate to be a winning chance.
“We had a bit of a battle, but Keith had too many kilometres in his legs and drew away at the end but I finished close enough to get the win.” Baird split the pair once handicaps were applied.
In the Sub Junior division of the race, Tom Collins scored a narrow win over Jordan Nitschke with Hope Need not far behind.
The club has a bye next weekend but then travel to Horsham for the 6.5 kilometre Telstra Shop Handicap on June 17. Fun runners are welcome.