Stawell Amateur Athletic Club rookie Narelle Bubb was the forgotten runner in the eight kilometre Tyler’s Hardware race at Rupanyup last Saturday and, boy, did she make the chasers pay!
After six runs with the club, finishing no closer than ninth, the running mum was a rank outsider – in racing parlance a 50-1 shot – before the start of the Tyler despite receiving a start as great as 22 minutes from the club’s elite.
She was literally out of sight and in front by “a country mile” before the greybearded Gary Saunders, who was next to start, began his chase more than six minutes behind.
“I never caught sight of her at all!” the hardy veteran said when he crossed the line in fourth place, still just on five minutes in arrears.
But second placed Sharon Howden, who ran steadily and strongly from her mark, starting more than 13 minutes after the rookie, completely forgot that the “disappearing phantom” was in the race.
When Howden surged past the third placed Keith Lofthouse with two kilometres to travel, seemingly with only Saunders to gun down, she thought she had the race in the bag but hadn’t bargained on a smiling Bubb waiting for her at the finish.
After 21 moves in 18 years, from places as distant as Papua New Guinea and Port Headland, the much-travelled Bubb has finally settled down at Carron, a tiny farming community midway between Donald and Warracknabeal, and adopted running.
Apart from a brief bout of netball, Bubb had never been involved in competitive sport until she joined the club to interest her boys Rhys and Jonte and daughter Natalya in alternatives to football and netball.
“I was eight years in PNG and did plenty of running in the hills at over 5000 feet, once ran 21 kilometres just to say I’ve done it, and now train every second day over distances no greater than 5km,” she said.
The win surprised her as much as anyone else and despite her experience in the highlands of PNG favoured the fast user-friendly course at Rupanyup which allowed her to find a rhythm and maintain it without ever losing momentum.
The afternoon was a real triumph for the Bubbs. Natalya and Jonte fought out the finish of the Sub-Junior event and Rhys was a shade too slick for Michael Coverdale in the five kilometre Junior race.
The club returns to the Ironbarks tomorrow for the five kilometre Stan and Karen Watson Handicap.
Fun runners are welcome and should meet at the North Park clubrooms from 1.30pm.