Just over seven years ago, the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club had to abandon its junior competition because teenagers didn’t want to run anymore; football, netball, Playstations and mobile phones reigned supreme.
But families are beginning to warm again to the fleet of foot without fear of their kids bumping heads or breaking bones.
Already this season, ten-year-old Olivia Hunter and twelve-year-old Sienna Santuccione have won races in senior ranks while the sub-junior competition, for pre-schoolers to pre-teens, has been thriving giving hope that they are the future of a junior revival.
Olivia became the youngest winner in the fifty-five year history of the club when she narrowly led her running mate Sienna to the timekeepers in the five kilometre Stephen Baird Handicap last month…but this time it was Sienna’s time to shine.
In the third all-girl podium in nine races this season, Sienna blitzed her more season chasers, using a daring tactic to win the eight kilometre Lindsay Kent Memorial Handicap by a safe margin from Claire Davies and Michelle Dunn.
“I tried it out in training, making a target of a tree up ahead and running fast to it, and then slowing down to the next, and speeding up again,” she explained.
“It seemed to work. This was only my third run at eight kilometres and it wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be.”
Impressive as that was, Sienna excelled when she joined the May 50km challenge and through family, friends and followers raised $5486 for Multiple Sclerosis research.
“I only had to run fifty kilometres for the month but I actually ran 83.2,” she said proudly.
The one kilometre Sub-Junior division of the race again attracted a brigade of willing youngsters, with Emila Jones prevailing for a sturdy win over siblings Milla and Will Freeland.
Action returns to Stawell this Saturday for the five kilometre Kieran Ryan Handicap. Fun runners are welcome.