In terms of personal targets, Horsham running coach Rick Price sets himself only modest goals but he achieved at least one of those when he recorded fastest time to win the five kilometre David O Jones Mitre 10 Handicap at Stawell last Saturday.
After an outstanding debut season with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club in 2011, Rick was plagued with calf injuries and had a barren 2012 competing in only nine of a possible 20 cross country races and being placed in just one – the very last of the year.
“I never came to the club with much ambition of winning races, but I’ve always wanted to run a fastest time and for the first time I’ve been able to do that,” he said.
To achieve that milestone, he knew he had to run faster time than his Horsham running mate, Gary Howden and, with a sizeable advantage on handicap, tackled the Ironbarks hills with gusto to put plenty of space between himself and his always hard-chasing rival.
Surging to the lead with about 800 metres to travel, the coach posted an impressive 20 minutes 25 seconds to score easily from the erratic Irishman, Sven O’Flynn, with Gary Howden clocking 20 minutes 43 seconds to slot into seventh place once handicaps were applied.
Rachel Coverdale, on the podium for the first time, was third with Selina Heard-Price, Rick’s stablemate, battling on gamely into fourth place.
Now that he has won again, meaning a penalty that will restrict his winning chances until late in the season, Rick thinks about challenges ahead – but hasn’t come up with an answer just yet.
“I’m not interested in marathons – too much bitumen is too hard on the body. I’ve thought about trail running, and I’m half interested in that. But right now I’m training Paris Panozzo and hoping to get her into the All Schools Cross Country Championships at Hobart in August, so I’m happy to focus on Paris and any other keen young runner who comes along.”
Ironically, it was the flying Panozzo, 15, who actually eclipsed the winning time of her coach by hurtling over the distance in a stunning 19 minutes 47 seconds (the fastest time of the day!!) to account for a determined Luca O’Flynn in the Junior division of the race.
Lily O’Flynn landed a consolation prize for the O’Flynns when she won the Sub-Junior race, over 1600 metres, catching Ella Freeland only in the last 200 metres to score an exciting win.
By Keith Lofthouse