Greybearded runner Gary Saunders likes to lead in his races and gets plenty of chances to do so as he is usually first to start in handicap races with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club.
But he is entitled; at 72 years of age he is the club’s most senior member.
With his large frame, flowing beard and crumpled race gear, he looks nothing like a runner, which is why he is almost always underestimated by those who forget he is the father of Philo Saunders, a Gift-quality athlete who has a 14.16 minute five kilometre to his credit.
Out front, Saunders says he runs as if a bull is chasing him and when on his favourite short courses in Stawell, such as the undulating five kilometres of the Stan and Karen Watson Handicap through the Ironbarks, the old man is always hard to catch.
And that’s how it happened that Saunders won for the second time in ten races this season, the eighth male to win after two seasons dominated by the club’s females.
“I always expect to get run over by the faster runners and so I always try and put plenty of space between myself and whoever is following.”
Saunders thought he had won easily. “I could have had a cup of tea waiting for the next person to clock in,” he chirped, but Matilda Iglesias felt she could have won if the race was a further 200 metres.
The winning margin, in fact, was less than 100 metres, Iglesias closing fast, and a steady Bob Freeland battling gamely into third place.
Junior runner Rhys Bubb ran with the seniors and was too sharp for many of them while his sister Natalya ran the 2km Sub-Juniors event and recorded her second straight win, this time out-gunning Jacob Casey and Alex Boan.
The club travels to Garry Rice’s Concongella Vineyard tomorrow for a 6.5km handicap. Interested fun runners should call 53562493 for details.