Greybeard Gary Saunders defied age, ten kilometres of hills, water hazards, tree roots and stones and a determined former club champion to easily win the fifth Run For Ray Scott at Stawell last Saturday.
Saunders, who will turn seventy-five in October, received 22 minutes start from Colin Barnett in the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club’s handicap event, but that’s fair enough given that Barnett is a five-time club champion and 22 years younger than the indefatigable veteran.
With a sixth, two fifths and a second from his past four starts, Saunders was closing in on his first win for the season and Saunders declared afterwards that it was “match fitness” that finally won him the spoils.
“I’ve been doing a bit more training now that the races are longer, including Big Hill and racing twice on the weekend (also with the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club) has brought my fitness up a notch.”
It was a classic case of slow and steady winning the race – not just winning, but giving the strong field a shellacking. Saunders had two minutes to spare from Barnett, on greeting the timekeepers, with last start winner, Tim Harris, again on the podium in third place.
“I had a bit of help out there on the course,” Saunders admitted.
He thanked one of the fun runners who matched strides with the winner for a good half of the race to keep his competitive juices flowing.
“I seemed to lose her after that but I always run imagining there are footsteps behind me and sometimes I hear them when there’s no one there. That keeps me going.”
In the one kilometre Sub-Junior division of the race Horsham youngster Jordan Nitschke broke through for his first win of the season, with the Membrey siblings Miles and Kayla doing best of the chasers.
The club hosts a landmark event this Saturday – the 16 kilometre Keith Haymes SAAC 50th Anniversary Handicap (10am start) followed by a post-race celebration at the North Park Clubrooms. Members and sponsors past and present are invited. Details on 53562493.