Lofthouse finds his form at the gap
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.