Nathan Baker

Baker goes back-to-back to beat bridesmaid

Veteran cross country runner, Terry Jenkins, spent late Saturday afternoon in recovery mode sitting on a book rueing the thought of yet another race that had gotten away.

Winless so far this year after nine weeks of seconds, thirds and fourths, Jenkins led the ten kilometre Stawell Sportspower Handicap for most of the last quarter, but was pipped on the post by the redoubtable Nathan Baker whose third win followed his second only the week before.

Most times, after a gruelling battle with someone always slightly better on the day, Jenkins can’t sit down unless he props his derriere on a book…something he learned from a wily oldtimer.

“It helps to tilt the spine and to realign it. I have to switch the book from cheek to cheek until things get a little more comfortable,” he explained.

Jenkins, of course, helps bring the aches and pains on himself. In the week prior to the Sportspower he ran seventy kilometres in preparation for the event, a tally not far removed from his age.

This brought a post-race scolding from master coach Keith Haymes when he learned that Jenkins had defied his pre-race golden rule to “never train on a Friday!”

Even during the race, in which Haymes served as marshal, Jenkins wasn’t free from rebuke.

“Hurry up!” Haymes barked as Baker began to bear down on the leader.

“I thought that doesn’t sound good,” Jenkins said, “but I knew better than to look back. He (Baker) only caught me in the last 75 metres, but I didn’t hear him coming.

The official margin was a mere five seconds with David Hunter, in full marathon training, a confidence-boosting third.

Baker was a little embarrassed to beat the handicapper with his back to back wins but it was well deserved.

“It was a bit of a mental challenge without (fellow backmarker) Colin Barnett for company to help me keep up the pace, and that made the course a lot tougher.

In the one kilometre Sub Junior dash, Josh Robinson made a lie of his form the week before when last to finish behind his brother Dale.

The club returns to the Ironbarks for the sixteen kilometre Life Members Handicap on a popular figure-eight course ideal for marathon trainees.

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