Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club president Peter Gibson believes history was created when veteran runner Keith Lofthouse won the race Gibson sponsors at Ararat’s Dunneworthy Common on Sunday.
“I don’t think anyone in our 51 years has ever managed to win the same sponsored race in three consecutive years,” Gibson, himself a 32-year veteran of the club, said at the post-race presentation.
The fourth running of the Gibson was dominated by stalwarts Lofthouse, the youngest at age 69, winning the eight-kilometre event from septuagenarians Gary Saunders and Jack Trounson, who have notched just on 1240 club runs between all three.
“I’m a real horses for courses runner,” Lofthouse said. “And Peter’s course with its long flat stretch and gradual incline to the one big hill before a fast downhill suits me down to the ground.”
Fifth in the first Gibson of 2015, the wiry Lofthouse, despite his ageing pins, has clocked faster times in his three wins: 42.43 minutes in 2016, then 41.18 and 40.28 on Sunday.
“There’s no question that you do learn how to run a course and this was a drier year with little wind. I also have Jack Trounson to thank for piling on the pressure when climbing the hill and then forcing the pace again in the last kilometre,” he said.
Lofthouse knew that Trounson, with metal screws in both ankles, was in some pain before the race and was limping afterwards, but what he didn’t know was that Trounson lost momentum when he had to stop to tie a shoelace and also suffered a sudden nosebleed.
“It could well have been a much different story,” Lofthouse said.
“A fully fit Jack will blow me away every time, but that’s the beauty of handicap racing, the slowest can beat the fastest and the oldest can spank the youngest.”
A five-kilometre Clem Hall Memorial in Stawell on Sunday is the club’s penultimate race of the season.
The club welcomes fun runners.