If the Wimmera Myotherapy Handicap last Saturday was a horse race, promising teenage rookie Elise Monaghan would have been a hot favourite to beat the veteran 100-1 outsider, Peter Hillbig, who hadn’t won a race with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club since 2009.
Placed second and third in the first two races of the cross country season, Monaghan was widely tipped as the “one to beat” in the five kilometre scamper around the flatlands of Stawell’s Rail Trail.
Hillbig, who appeared without warning on the start line looking fit and tanned, had not been seen at the club since finishing ninth in an 8000 metre race at Stawell in 2010.
But there was no fairytale ending.
With just 200 metres to run Hillbig was in front and looked likely to cause a stunning upset until the plucky sixteen-year-old found the strength to run the roughie down.
Third was Amy Yole, already threatening to win again after slashing 2.39 minutes from her winning time over the same distance, albeit on a tougher course, just three weeks ago.
Monaghan, a Level Seven gymnast, is now also honing her skills as an athlete, having won a three kilometre cross country race, representing Marian College, and finishing fourth in another.
“I’m trying to focus on ways of improving to run the best I can and dad has helped by introducing me to interval training. I hope to get some specialised training soon on the running track at North Park (Stawell),” she said.
In the one kilometre sub junior division of the race, Blaze Kenney blitzed a big field of chasers which included Louis Fletcher and Nash Santuccione who finished closest.
The club returns to the Ironbarks on Saturday for the five kilometre David O Jones Mitre 10 Championship. Fun runners are welcome and should meet at the North Park Clubrooms from 9.30am.