The planets aligned yet again for veteran cross country runner Keith Lofthouse when he easily won the 7.7 kilometre Tyler’s Hardware and Rural Handicap for the third time at Rupanyup last Saturday.
“Somehow I seem to grow another leg for this race,” said the sixty-seven-year-old who repeated his success of last year, and has now won at Rupanyup three times in seven starts that have also netted a close second and two thirds.
“I hate to say it, but I would have won it a fourth time in 2010 when, like an idiot, I finished the race 500 metres short of the line.
Lofthouse said his form in the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club’s 2016 season had been “woeful” before the Tyler’s.
“I’d had some medical issues before my pre-season and couldn’t train. Fitness just wouldn’t come until, like an electric light, it switched on in a 5km race at Stawell last week and I managed to run third. I’d have finished nearer last had Tyler’s been scheduled three weeks ago. And if Gary Howden hadn’t strained a hamstring before the race and Dave Hunter a calf during the race I might be telling a different story.”
Greybeard Gary Saunders led for most of the way but the second-placed stalwart became victim of a Lofthouse form reversal for the second year running. First to start was Naomi Hunter, who carried an injury into the race but fought bravely to cling on for third, a rookie who enjoyed her first podium finish.
The flat, fast run which winds through a man-made course locally known as Jack’s Track, again proved to be a front-markers benefit. The first four to finish received sizeable starts from the hapless backmarkers who made little impression.
Miles Membrey ran the race of his young life to easily account for Jordan and Jay Jay Nitschke in a keenly contested Sub-Juniors event.
The club’s backmarkers will look forward to redemption in the tougher 10 kilometre Stawell Sportspower Handicap on Saturday. Fun runners are welcome and should meet at the North Park clubrooms from 9.30am.