The mercurial Rhonda Rice enhanced her reputation as our most unpredictable runner by turning on the after burners to blitz her club-mates in the eight kilometre Lindsay Kent Memorial Handicap.
At her previous start in the five kilometre David O. Jones Mitre 10 Handicap Rhonda finished 13th, two minutes and 18 seconds behind the third placed Bob Freeland.
But, like her initials, Rhonda Rice can be a Rolls Royce one day and a moped the next, this time upturning Bob Feeland’s apple cart to put two minutes and daylight between herself and the veteran runner.
Mark Whyte, Keith Lofthouse and Dave Hunter, who also finished well clear of Rhonda in the shorter race, again ran faster time but were unable to match the winner once handicaps were applied.
Rhonda, in fact, almost landed an unlikely double, narrowly missing out on winning our race and the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club version of the race – something she did achieve in the Seppelts combined race at Great Western in 2013.
Revelling in the sunny conditions on her favourite course, Rhonda got to within 0.09 seconds of Anthony Mellors, the Ararat winner, to almost claim this prestigious club race for a third time after previous wins in 1998 and 2012.
Often referred to as “silent death” – a term she rather likes – for her ability to exceed expectations, Rhonda credits her sudden revival to a revised training schedule of morning runs lasting at least an hour around the streets of Stawell before work.
In the Sub Junior division of the race Alex Boan claimed an overdue win – by a mere 0.04 second ahead of determined Horsham youngster Jordan Nitschke, with Elizabeth Squire a gallant third.
The club returns to the Ironbarks on Saturday for the five kilometre Stephen Baird Handicap. Fun runners are welcome and information is available on 53562493.