Maiden win for rookie Eldridge
Graeme Eldridge, 58, is proof positive that everyone can run, even those who say they can’t.
After winning an eight-kilometre Stawell Amateur Athletic Club handicap race at Stawell on Saturday, Eldridge could not believe what he had just achieved.
“I’ve always been a walker, but never a runner,” he said.
Eldridge started to jog 18 months ago but had never given competitive running a thought until his Horsham club-mate Col Barnett told him about the Stawell club.
“I started taking small steps, running a kilometre or two here and there and lost 14 kilograms in the first 12 months,” he said.
“Col and Vicki Tyler encouraged me to join the club, and here I am, after just six races with the first trophy I’ve ever won in my life.”
The late-blooming rookie surprised himself and all who chased him on a hilly course that challenges the faint-hearted.
The more experienced Tyler had closed to within striking distance with a kilometre to run, but with the sniff of victory Eldridge found hidden reserves and stuck on grimly to win by a mere seven seconds with Gary Saunders back in third place.
“With advice from Vicki and Col I’ve started to add some variety to my training, including some speed work,” Eldridge said.
“But I’ve got to come to Stawell for the hills and I know that will make me better able to handle them.
“Eventually I’d like to take on a half marathon. It’s incredible to me that I’m thinking about that now.
“Eighteen months ago it would be a stretch for me to run a lap of an oval.” In one-kilometre sub-juniors, Kayla Membrey finished strongly to defeat Johnno Baker and third-placed Olivia Hunter.
The club’s longer races begin with a 10-kilometre Run For Ray Scott from Stawell’s Rifle Range Road at 10am on Saturday. Fun runners are welcome.
Everything fell neatly into place for Ian Mccready when he broke through for his first win this season with Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club.
But when it actually happened the Ararat shearer was more surprised than anyone.
A rare three-time winner in 2016, Mccready had managed only one podium finish in nine starts and had only finished sixth over the same distance when last in club colours.
The eight-kilometre Trounson Family Handicap, however, presented a new set of challenges on a tough course strewn with hazards, such as fallen trees, deep ditches and puddles.
A relative newcomer, Mccready’s maiden win was in the Trounson in his first year in 2012.
He has shown a liking for the course and the rugged uphill climbs hold no fears for the Taekwondo black-belter.
Mccready had anticipated that ever-consistent Peter Gibson would reel him in early, but was unaware the pre-race favourite was hampered by a groin injury.
First to pass was Paul Fenn, the reigning club champion, who was having his first start for the season after recovering from a persistent achilles injury.
“I thought the race was over when Paul cruised past me, but I didn’t know until I finished that Paul wasn’t actually in the race, but was running on invitation.”
Another tough assignment awaits runners on Sunday when the club travels to hilly Warrak for the 6.5-kilometre Watkins Family Handicap. Fun runners are welcome.
BREAKTHROUGH: Graeme Eldridge on his way to victory.