A grimly determined Rhonda Clark reversed recent narrow defeats, with a slender victory in the handicap section of the Advance Bricks-sponsored King of the Mountain, held at Halls Gap last Saturday.
Gritting her teeth for the punishing three kilometre climb after being pipped at the post by Col Barnett at Stawell last start, and going down by a mere four seconds to David McAllister at Ararat last month, Rhonda was steady and resolute in her will to win and saluted the timekeepers with just six seconds to spare from the experienced Steve Baird.
In a desperate fight for third, Paul Atherton prevailed by a solitary second over the improving Bob Freeland who had trained for two hours on the demanding course during the week.
Feeling like a queen, just for a day, a smiling Rhonda said that she “never ever expected” to win the notorious King of the Mountain which had tested the reserves of many fitter and faster runners over the years. She thanked her partner, Garry Rice, for a robust training session prior to the race and praised the mercurial Sven O’Flynn for challenging her some 200 metres before the finish “which might have made the difference between winning and losing.”
Nathaniel Warren speed over the distance in a blistering 12 minutes, 37 second – 18 seconds faster than his winning time last year – and was crowned King of the Mountain. Nathaniel’s effort was all the more meritorious because Dave McAllister, the man most likely to press him for supremacy, was not present on the day.
Earning the title of Queen of the Mountain for the fifth time from her past five attempts, Susie Ellis again dominated as the fastest female in 14.56. A remarkably consistent and committed athlete, super-Susie recorded exactly 14.37 in two of those wins and 14.34 in a third.
Luca O’Flynn jumped to a handy lead in the battle for the Junior Aggregate and Open Boys Championship by winning Prince of the Mountain while Layla Atherton became Princess after skipping away with the sub-junior division of the race.
By Keith Lofthouse