In the 48 year history of our club, no race has been so dominated by female athletes than last Saturday’s Stawell Toyota Handicap in which seven of the first eight to finish were women.
Employing “catch me if you can” tactics, the mercurial Rhonda Clark led the assault on masculine pride, turning into the 400 metres Ironbarks straight with a lead big enough to win the Olympic Marathon.
Running with metronome-like rhythm, Rhonda gave no-one else a chance to overhaul her and she strolled to an impressive 39 second win over Horsham pair “Super” Susie Ellis and Selina Heard-Price. who registered her first podium finish of the season.
Only the fifth-placed veteran Stephen Baird prevented an all-girl annihilation, but their supremacy was complete as this was the third time this season that they had occupied all three placings in a race and the 11th win by females in 15 races.
Clark at least thanked a 70-year-old male, Gary Saunders for providing winning inspiration this year but she also gave credit to her trainers Jody and Rachael at Stawell YMCA and to Olympic Gold Medallist Sally Pearson as well.
“I’ve been doing plenty of gym work, including about 30 minutes on the treadmill after work, which I never used to do, so it seems to make a difference,” the softly-spoken winner said.
Likewise, Heard-Price has stepped up her training, joining promising junior Paris Panozzo for extra hill work, distance and sprints in Horsham under the guidance of her husband and coach, Rick Price.
Fastest time was the scintillating 28 minutes 32 seconds posted by Stawell speedster, Keiran Ryan, who ran on invitation.
The whimsical Sven O’Flynn finished near last but siblings Luca and Lily O’Flynn flew the green flag for the Irishman winning the Junior and Sub-Junior divisions of the race.
By Keith Lofthouse