David Hunter is a changed man since he began running the competitive cross country with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club in 2013.
In that time he has won “three or four “races; has stepped up from half-marathons to run his first full marathon last year, won the club aggregate in 2016 and above all has shed at least ten kilograms from his body weight,
Nowadays, his whole family is involved in the weekly competition: daughters Olivia and Chloe run sub-junior events with the club and wife Naomi, recovering from an Achilles injury, helps with the time keeping and is club secretary.
None of this Hunter would have thought possible five years ago, but having broken a two-year drought by winning the five kilometre Axis Employment Handicap at Deep Lead on Saturday, the hard-working landscape gardener was keen to talk about what lies ahead.
“I was probably underdone for the Melbourne Marathon last year and was satisfied with my time (4.20 hours) but I’ve read that the global average for all men is 4.13 hours so I’d like to get below that.”
Hunter, who turns forty in September, admitted to a slow start to the 2017 season. Marathon training typically slowed down his leg speed, something he was only able to retrieve through the free Monday night speed sessions at Stawell’s Central Park.
With 500 metres to run in the Axis, Hunter doubted he had the leg speed to reel in the front marker, Stephen Baird, but “Squeak” Baird’s legs turned to jelly on the final climb.
Once Baird was beaten, Hunter had enough in reserve to hold off the consistent Gary Howden and the flashy backmarker Tom Walker, who rocketed into third place, recording the fastest time of 17.02 minutes.
In the Sub-Juniors race, much-improved youngster Miles Membrey scored a tenacious win from the Nitschke brothers Jordan and Jay Jay.
The Hunters host the 5.5 kilometre Hunter Gardens and Landscaping Handicap at Concongella Hall this Saturday. Fun runners are invited to meet there for a 10 am start.