Maiden win for rookie Eldridge

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport -

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.

Cross coun­try

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.

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