Graeme Eldridge is proof positive that everyone can run, even those who say they can’t.
After winning the eight kilometre Stawell Toyota and Kia Handicap at Stawell on Saturday, the fifty-eight-year-old Eldridge couldn’t believe what he had just achieved.
“I’ve always been a walker, but never a runner,” he said.
Eldridge started to jog 18 months ago but had never given competitive running a thought until his Horsham-based club-mate Col Barnett told him about the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club.
“I started taking small steps, running a kilometre or two here and there and lost 14 kilograms in the first 12 months. Col and Vicki Tyler encouraged me to join the club, and here I am, after just six races with the first trophy I’ve ever won in my life!”
The late-blooming rookie surprised himself and all those who chased him on a hilly course that challenges the faint-hearted.
He had only finished eleventh the week before on a twisting and turning five kilometre course but there were excuses: in recovery mode not long after a punishing few days and nights of social activity in Darwin.
The more experienced Tyler had closed to within striking distance with a kilometre to run, but with the sniff of victory Eldridge found hidden reserves and stuck on grimly to win by a mere seven seconds with greybeard Gary Saunders back in third place.
“With advice from Vicki and Col I’ve started to add some variety to my training, including some speed work, “Eldridge said. “But I’ve got to come to Stawell for the hills and I know that will make me a better able to handle them.
“Eventually I’d like to take on a half marathon. It’s incredible to me that I’m thinking about that now.
Eighteen months ago it would be a stretch for me to run a lap of an oval!”
In the one kilometre Sun Junior division of the race, Kayla Membrey finished strongly to defeat Johnno Baker and third placed Olivia Hunter.
The club’s longer races begin with the ten kilometre Run For Ray Scott from Stawell’s Rifle Range Road at 10am on Saturday. Fun runners are welcome.