Tough 8km a Breeze for Kokoda Trekking Ryan

Ultra-marathoner Kieran Ryan returned to the roots of his running career with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club to outclass club-mates in the Stawell Toyota and Kia Handicap last Saturday.

Fresh from a “life changing” trek along the 96 kilometres of Papua-New Guinea’s iconic Kokoda Trail, Ryan “shook out the cobwebs” for the Ironbarks race by being first to finish in the Mothers Day Classic before conceding as much as 17 minutes start to veteran campaigner Bob Freeland but running him down over the last 600 metres to salute by over a minute.

A tough course that seemed to climb for seven of the eight kilometres, the race was a brutal assignment for all but the relentless Ryan who charged over the distance in a smashing 28.16 minutes – 1.44 minutes faster than Nathaniel Warren’s next best.

Warren was third to finish, but had the misfortune of starting off the same mark as the ironman, who trains up to 110 kilometres a week in preparation for the 100 km runs and races that lure him.

Kokoda, apparently, had not sapped any of his strength, but the 27-year-old Ryan was deeply moved by the experience and the historic sacrifice made by others.

“It makes you realise how lucky we are for the things we take for granted, such as having cool, fresh water on tap and yet over there, it all has to be boiled to purify it.”

In the one kilometre Sub Juniors division of the race, Miles Membrey, not long after a tonsils operation, led all the way to score a brave win over determined chasers, Kayla Membrey and Jay Jay Nitschke.

An easier task awaits members when they line up for the five kilometre Community Axis Handicap tomorrow. Fun runners are welcome and should meet at the North Park clubrooms from 9.30am.

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