Stung by reports in the Stawell Mail Times that likened him to a “moody racehorse”, Ararat runner Sven O’Flynn hit back by smashing a strong field of reliable campaigners in the 6.5 kilometres Garry Rice Handicap. The race was held at Rice’s fabulous Concongella vineyard last Sunday.
Sven is a newcomer this year to the SAAC but has run for some years with the Ararat Club. The enigmatic Sven, who peppers his race form with many a casual effort before suddenly shaking out a “blinder”, ran just about the race of his life to confound our beloved handicapper with a 1 min 23 sec winning margin over Gaynor Radovic.
Kylie Murtagh was a further 20 seconds away in third place in a promising performance that should guarantee a win in the near future.
What was even more remarkable about Sven’s win was the fact that he ran in some discomfort after dropping a heavy barbecue on his left foot while helping a mate move house that morning. After buckling to his knees from exhaustion on crossing the finish line, Sven quickly removed his running shoes to reveal a badly bruised and swollen foot. “Ordinarily that would have stopped me from running,” he winced, “but I was really motivated by being compared to a racehorse that ‘sometimes digs his toes in’, so I was determined not to this time.” It was in fact a real “horses for courses” victory for Sven whose only previous win with the Stawell & Ararat Cross Country Club was at the same grassy and picturesque venue in 2007, when he actually ran eight seconds faster.
The popular race, held in conjunction with the Stawell & Ararat Cross Country Club, honoured the memory of Ray Scott, a distinguished runner with both clubs over many years, and past-president of our club, who died tragically on Saturday, May 8, while on a training run through the Ironbarks Forest he loved.
All 32 runners wore black armbands and two of Ray’s closest running mates, Frank Shevlin and Barry Radford attended the race. Frank came especially from Ballarat and, running on invitation, sped over the distance in a blistering 22 minutes and 37 seconds, which was easily the fastest. Our own champion, Nathaniel Warren, tried to stay with him and was officially the club’s fastest, but Frank blitzed him by almost a minute.
Radford did not run but displayed various scrapbooks and memorabilia from the past glories he shared with his old friend. Two of Ray sons, Karl and Liam, also raced in their dad’s honour. It was a pleasure and a delight to run in their company. It was a big day out for the O’Flynns as Luca and Lily O’Flynn both won junior divisions of Garry’s race.
By Keith Lofthouse
A special thank you to Garry and Rhonda for the effort they went to on the day.