One week after the club’s first female quinella in more than a year came a second when Rhonda Clark and Sharon Howden fought out the finish of the 10 kilometre S and R Young Sportspower Handicap last Saturday. The race was run as a sealed handicap.
After showing consistent form to finish just behind the placegetters in six of her first eight races this year, Rhonda’s form slumped suddenly, finishing eighth and tenth before staging a stunning form reversal to snatch a 12 second win over Sharon, who was the pre-race favourite.
Rhonda was almost apologetic when accepting her winning sash and trophy. “It doesn’t seem fair because I’ve hardly trained at all since returning from a trip to the United States a couple of weeks ago,” she said sheepishly.
But then, Rhonda is one of those runners who always races well fresh and this has proven to be her time of year. In July 2010 she defeated Steve Baird in the club’s King of the Mountain race and in the same month also beat a strong field to win an 8km race with the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club.
“Maybe I run well in July because it’s more than half-way through the season and I’m running out of races,” she said. “I felt good today, and I know I worked hard, but the win has come from nowhere. I certainly didn’t expect it.”
In perfect conditions, Rhonda chased struggling runner Keith Lofthouse for most of the race, but keeping him in her sights all of the way was enough to propel her to a surprising win.
The hapless Sharon, who has improved her fitness and stamina since her tilt at the Gold Coast Half-Marathon a month ago, was unlucky to lower her colours again as the two females “spaced” the opposition.
Bob Freeland plugged away gamely into third place, 52 seconds behind the tearaways.
Col Barnett was first across the line and took out the senior Open and Veterans Championship, recording the best time for the sixth time this season with a sparkling 40 minutes 27 seconds. Susie Ellis once again was first female home and took out the women’s Open and Veterans Championship major points.
Talented Pomonal youngster, Raine Mackley, ran a blistering 17 minutes 05 seconds to easily win the four kilometre Junior division of the race from the consistent Tobias Blair, while Layla Atherton made a one-act affair of the Sub-juniors event.
By Keith Lofthouse