Retired banker Bob Freeland, 65, is a prime example of someone who is never too old and never too weary.
In the Ironbarks Forest last Saturday, Freeland was an easy winner of a Stawell Amateur Athletic Club handicap race after a normal week of training and exercise, a religious regimen of swimming, running, bike riding and golf and, following up last Sunday, with a 12 kilometre hit-out in the annual Run the Gap.
“It’s easy for me because I am retired and have the time,” the hardy veteran said. “But it’s also fair to say that if I didn’t do all of that I might not be here today!”
Freeland is a hard-nosed exponent of the principle that exercise is for life – and his willingness to pass on this experience has resulted in a growing and dedicated group of runners, young and old, turning up at Stawell’s Central Park on Mondays at 6pm for a free one hour “speed” session, benefitting footballers, athletes, netballers and anyone serious about keeping fit.
Several of those gave a start to Freeland in the Community Axis-sponsored event – Dave Hunter, Matilda Iglesias, Rhonda Rice and Keith Lofthouse – but none could reel him in.
Freeland, not as fast as he was in his prime but steady and always relentless, led for most of the way and had 0.42 seconds to spare from the YMCA’s Rachel Coverdale at the finish with Hunter sliding into third place ahead of the fast-finishing Nathaniel Warren.
One of the newcomers to the club complained after the race that his knees were hurting – a common enough grumble for those who haven’t trained as Freeland has trained.
“The knees take a lot of the punishment, but you have to condition them to racing through regular running, at least three times a week. If your knees hurt, run on grass. Runners who run on hard surfaces like bitumen all the time need to take the pressure off their joints and grass running will do that.”
In the one kilometre Sub Junior event Kayla Membrey won bravely but narrowly from a determined Olivia Hunter with Jordan Nitschke finishing strongly into third place.