Triumph for ‘Van’
Adrian van Raaphorst, the veteran of 566 starts with Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club, has won most races on the club calendar.
But a win in the 21st Wilde Family Handicap had eluded him until last Sunday.
But if the five-kilometre event at Moyston ended in triumph for van Raaphorst, it was heartbreak for runner-up Stephen Baird who was denied the chance of his first win since 2008 when headed by ‘the Van’ with 400 metres to run.
“Steve took a lot of catching today,” Van Raaphorst said.
“I might have been helped when Neil Wilde yelled out ‘here comes Ian’ just as I hit the front.
“I thought to myself he couldn’t be that close, but you run a little scared when you hear the call, so I just put my head down and hoped for the best.”
The Van greeted the timekeepers with 0.14 minutes to spare over Baird, with Ian Mccready, who had given the winner a 4.40 minute start, typically unwinding a powerful sprint to finish third just 10 seconds behind Baird.
No one begrudged van Raaphorst the win – he is one of the club’s toughest trainers who runs at least three, nine-kilometre sets during the week and has added pilates and bike-riding sessions to his program.
But sympathies were with Baird who suffered a career-wrecking hamstring tear in 2014 and will never fully recover.
“I just try to do the best I can. Running is what I do,” he said.
Last over eight kilometres at Ararat the week before, Baird was given no chance of winning the Wilde, but credited an extra eight-kilometre run during the week showing.
“It’s just a matter of getting the kilometres into my legs and I’ll do better. The trick is trying to sustain what I have gained,” he said.
The club has a ‘home’ assignment in Ararat this Saturday for an eight-kilometre Simon and Tiffany Gallagher Handicap. Fun runners are welcome and should meet at The Pits car park from 9.15am. for his vastly improved
TOP RUN: Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club placegetters, from left, Ian Mccready, Adrian van Raaphorst and Stephen Baird.