Peter Barham had heard tall tales but true about the “hill of horrors” at Troopers Camp but tackled it for the first time in atrocious conditions last Saturday and scored an emotional second win this season with the Club.
The torturous ten kilometre Run for Ray over treacherous rocks, boulders and exposed tree roots seemed more daunting in the steady rain which turned the uphill and downhill run into a slipway.
Named in memory of Ray Scott, a dedicated clubman and past President, a tough as teak athlete and one of the elite few who could conquer the unconquerable climb without slowing to a walk, the race attracted only the fearless this year and Peter defied the handicapper to score.
Having won the Lindsay Kent Memorial earlier in the season and followed with a string of seconds and thirds, Peter approached the club handicapper, Garry Rice, with an uncommon request.
He wanted Garry to be more ruthless when assessing his form, given that after a couple of years in the wilderness he was logging up to 55 km a week in hard-slog training and improving faster than the handicapper could keep ahead of him.
As the field commenced the run skyward to spectacular views of Roses Gap, Peter was stunned to witness the “Meggy Boan method” of beating the hill by zigzagging its entire length, her theory being that the technique reduces the incline.
At the end of the race, with Meggy fastest of the club runners, no one could argue her wisdom but Peter was close enough to be declared the winner on handicap, with Meggy second and the 72-year-old Gary Saunders doing his best work of the season to finish third.
The winner paid a moving tribute to his old training buddy, Ray Scott, when accepting a trophy from his widow, Alison.
“There were 10 of us in a group who used to train in the Ironbarks and Ray was always someone you could count on being there,” he said. “Here today, I always felt as if Ray was running at my shoulder as he always did. He was one of those great blokes who you couldn’t help but admire and we still miss him greatly.”
Young Stawell Swifts footballers, Karl and Liam, took advantage of a club bye to represent the family with Liam Scott, on invitation, dominating the race from the outset to record fastest time.
In the Sub-Junior version of the race, Jay Jay Nitschke revealed the wiles of a more mature athlete to wait for the downhill run before launching a surprise attack, to defeat his brother Jordan and a gentlemanly Alex Boan who conceded to the younger boy.
The club travels to Haven, near Horsham tomorrow (Saturday) for the Community Axis Handicap, 5km. Fun-runners are welcome and should meet at Haven Hall from 1.30pm. Keith Lofthouse 53562493 / 0458830034