Rhonda wins for Ray

The too often underrated Rhonda Rice has done it again!

Judicious in picking and choosing races to her liking, she bobbed up for only the sixth time in the seventeenth race of the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club season to snatch victory in the 16 kilometre One More Step For Ray Rickard Handicap at Stawell last Saturday.

Helped along by a see-sawing tussle with a resolute Kayleen Urquhart in the second half of the race, Rice enjoyed a 0.47 minute winning margin over Jess Cass and Urquhart to complete a rare all-girl trifecta.

“That was unexpected,” the mercurial Rice said after her win, except that it wasn’t.

She used the same words to explain her “surprise” win in the Lindsay Kent Memorial Handicap in mid-May, the second of only five runs of a possible fourteen with the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club this year.

Rice is now a three-time winner of that prestigious event and a two-time winner of the 16 kilometre race, which is the longest of the forty conducted by the region’s two cross country clubs.

“I think I prefer the longer distances,” she said demurely. “Sometimes I think it’s not worth changing your shoes to run five kilometres. And sometimes they’re harder than the eight to 10 kilometre races.”

The One More Step for Ray Rickard honours the memory of the club legend who passed away in December 2016 after a long illness.

“Whenever I was out on course, Ray was always there marshalling for the club and as I went by he would always say, ‘Come on Rhonda, release the hand-break!’” Rice said tearfully on accepting her prize.

In the one kilometre Sub-Juniors event, Miles Membrey scored a narrow win over Jack Urquhart, with their siblings Kayla Membrey and Tom Urquhart dead-heating for third.

The club will venture to Halls Gap this Saturday for the five kilometre King (or Queen) of the Mountain. Fun runners are welcome.

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