Tri­umph for ‘Van’

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY KEITH LOFTHOUSE

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.

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