Loft­house finds his form at the gap

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport -

Keith Loft­house’s bar­ren sea­son of cross-coun­try run­ning with Stawell Am­a­teur Ath­letic Club came to an abrupt halt on Satur­day when he staged a dra­matic form re­ver­sal to win a five-kilo­me­tre King of the Moun­tain race at Halls Gap.

In 14 starts in 2019, Loft­house had failed to fin­ish closer than fourth and his four most re­cent runs had pro­duced un­flat­ter­ing fail­ures – a 15th, 13th, 12th and an eighth.

“The dif­fer­ence was the last three of those were eight or 10 kilo­me­tres and I wasn’t fit enough,” he said.

Loft­house pulled out at the half­way mark of a 16-kilo­me­tre race at Stawell the week be­fore but had not run in any dis­com­fort, which boosted his con­fi­dence for Halls Gap.

“Terry Jenk­ins has had a fan­tas­tic sea­son and I knew if I could stick with him I would go pretty close to fin­ish­ing on top,” he said.

What Loft­house did not know was that his per­for­mance co­in­cided with a ben­e­fi­cial ‘lift’ in his hand­i­cap.

The un­lucky Jenk­ins had to give Loft­house three min­utes start which fi­nally con­verted into a two-minute win­ning mar­gin over Si­mon Edge and fast-im­prov­ing Kate Field, with Jenk­ins just a tick be­hind her in fourth place. Reign­ing club cham­pion Colin Bar­nett ran fastest time, an im­pres­sive 22.03 min­utes and was crowned King of the Moun­tain, while Meghann O’brien’s stylish 24.25 earned her the ti­tle of Queen.

In a one-kilo­me­tre sub-ju­nior event, Olivia Hunter won by a slen­der mar­gin from Jerome Baker.

More hill climb­ing awaits the club on Satur­day with the five-kilo­me­tre Big Hill Hand­i­cap at Stawell.

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