In his maiden cross country win last year, Horsham runner Graeme Eldridge showed a liking for the hilly eight kilometre Stawell Toyota Handicap course through the Ironbarks and franked that form by winning the same race last Saturday.
In a dramatic drive to the line, Eldridge stuck on grimly to beat the fast-finishing Matilda Iglesias by just seven seconds with David Hunter a similar margin away in third place after his see-sawing battle with the runner-up over the last kilometre.
“I must have led for the last 1500 metres,” Eldridge said, “but I really had to crank it up when I heard the others coming from behind!”
At the post-race presentation, Eldridge said that by discovering at age fifty-eight he could be a competitive runner with the Stawell Amateur Athletic club had changed his life.
“I’ve lost fourteen kilograms in weight, my blood pressure is down, my cholesterol is down and my resting heart rate is down to forty-eight.
“I’ve learnt that the handicapping gives everyone a winning chance and the encouragement I’ve received from everyone at the club has been extraordinary.”
Eldridge now has his sights set on running a half-marathon in Melbourne in October and is ramping up the kilometres in preparation for that.
‘I’ve already run two in Horsham’s Relay for Life so I know what I’m capable of. I don’t know about the full Marathon but I’ve already achieved more with my running than I ever thought I would so who knows?”
In the one kilometre Sub Juniors race Chloe Hunter fought out the finish with her sister Olivia and prevailed narrowly.
The club has a bye this Saturday but joins the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club for the eight kilometre “race for the wine” – the Best’s Great Western Classic on Saturday, July 14. Fun runners are welcome.