Horsham runners issued an unspoken challenge to their comrades in Stawell when Glenn Ryan became the fifth athlete from further west to win a race with the club this season.
Glenn’s win, the first of his short career, meant that the score is five-all in the ten races conducted by the cross-country club so far this season.
It’s an impressive effort by the Horsham brigade, given that week in and week out they face a 140 kilometre round trip to “play” away from home.
“We like coming down to Stawell to face the challenge of hills that we don’t see back home,” an elated Glenn, 46, said after his maiden success in the club’s longest race, the Charlie Jones Handicap, held over 16 kilometres.
Glenn joins previous Horsham winners Gary Howden, Tony Harris, Selina Heard-Price and Rick Price in what is already an unprecedented tally of wins for the visitors.
Remarkably, only one second separated the winner from the tattooed race sponsor, Charlie Jones, at the end of the gruelling event that snakes through the Ironbarks forest.
Glenn, who admitted that he had “never won anything” in his life, only took up running three years ago as part of a dramatic adjustment to his lifestyle.
“If you told me three years ago that I’d be winning a foot race over this distance in 2011 I’d have said you were a nut case,” he said. “I was a smoker for 30 years – up to two packs a week when I quit – and I had to do something to lose weight. I started off swimming the Pub to Pier and I did the Around the Bay bike race, but with the Horsham runners I get a chance to train regularly and it’s made a huge difference to my life.”
Fastest time in the race, an outstanding 64.04 minutes, was recorded by yet another Horsham athlete Simon Coutts, 34, who is also a recent convert to running.
The matter-of-fact Simon, whose ambition is to complete a marathon, but doesn’t know which one yet, said he has only been serious about running for twelve months.
“I’ve been keen on mountain bike riding and rock climbing for a while but it was only after I competed in a triathlon that I found out I could run. I’m not a competitive person so it came as a bit of a surprise,” he said.
The junior division of the race, held over four kilometres, was won in dashing style by Paris Panozzo from Pomonal’s Raine Mackley, while Cella Atherton had just nine seconds to spare from Armani Scollary in the sub-junior event, hled over 1000 metres.
By Keith Lofthouse