“Jack’s Track” specialist Keith Lofthouse returned to the scene of his first race success with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club and staged a form reversal to post an easy win in the eight kilometre Tyler’s Hardware Handicap at Rupanyup last Saturday.
The inaugural winner of the race in 2009, the veteran has finished second, two thirds and won twice in his seven outings in the event which winds through a man-made course locally known as Jack’s Track. He claims he should also have won in 2010 when “like an idiot” he “finished” his race 500 metres short of the line.
“Jack’s is a flat, fast course which suits my style,” Lofthouse said. “Because there are no rocks, tree roots or uneven ground to contend with I run with a lot more confidence. I’m able to get into a good rhythm and when that happens I usually find I can run longer and stronger.”
In 11 starts before the Tyler, Lofthouse hadn’t managed a podium finish but recent fourths on tougher courses indicated that a win was not far away.
“I chased Tim Harris all the way. He’s stronger, faster and a good deal younger, but I knew if I stuck with him I had some sort of chance.”
Only inches separated the pair at the finish, but in reality Harris finished well behind because he had to give the winner three minutes start.
Once handicaps were applied, Lofthouse had a comfortable margin over relentless greybeard Gary Saunders with Sharon Howden a minute further away in third place.
Nathan Baker recorded a scintillating fastest time of 32.34 which was just under two minutes quicker than the next best.
Jay Jay Nitschke earned bragging rights over his older brother Jordan when he landed the Sub Junior one kilometre race by just three seconds. Olivia Hunter ran her usual honest race for third.
The club combines with the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club on Sunday for the eight kilometre Seppelts Classic at Great Western racecourse. Fun runners are welcome and should meet at the racecourse from 9.15am.