Gallagher shines in cross country
Simon Gallagher ventured out for a single training run last week, taking on Ararat’s formidable One Tree Hill, but it was a tough enough workout to prepare him for a runaway win in a 6.5-kilometre Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club handicap run.
Skimming across the glistening Concongella Vineyard grass, the long-striding 27-year-old was not only 1.41 minutes faster than Ian Mccready, who was next to finish, but also dominated the race on handicap. He held a 52-second margin over placegetters Keith Lofthouse and Nathan Bendelle.
Club-mates are adamant Gallagher could win a Stawell Gift two-miler if he trained properly but that’s not even a smouldering ambition for the power-packed runner, who remains as laidback as they come.
“Everyone says that I could do so much better,” he said. “But that’s going to need a lot of motivation. For me, it just feels good to run as fast as I can for as long as I can, without putting myself under stress at the end of a race.”
It was a race for the ‘ages’ when three rising septuagenarians fought out the finish of a five-kilometre handicap run Stawell.
Terry Jenkins, 70 in August, staved off the challenges of ‘youngsters’ Stephen Baird, 66, and Keith Lofthouse, 68, to win his first race with Stawell Amateur Athletic Club in 16 years.
Between them the at placegetters have chalked up more than 100 years of competitive running and at least a thousand races. Jenkins and Lofthouse have run multiple marathons, while Baird boasts ‘about 20’ professional track wins over distances up to 400 metres.
Receiving a minute’s start from Lofthouse under the handicap conditions, Jenkins knew he had to stick on the tail of his steady-going club-mate to be a winning chance.
“We had a bit of a battle, but Keith had too many kilometres in his legs and drew away at the end. But I finished close enough to get the win.”
Baird split the pair once handicaps were applied.
In a sub-junior division, Tom Collins scored a narrow win over Jordan Nitschke with Hope Need not far behind.
Both clubs have byes this weekend but Stawell amateur club members travel to Horsham for a 6.5-kilometre handicap on June 17 and Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club will tackle its first eight-kilometre race of the season, the Fenn Family Handicap at Ararat’s Mcdonald Park on June 18.
Veteran Terry Jenkins