Four seasons in one day – better than the often freezing conditions encountered in the northern wilds of Brimbank Park – was the scene for those contesting the annual torture test at Keilor. Box Hill secured third place, behind Glen Huntly and Doncaster, in the men’s Division 1 16 km Cross Country Race. Given our small representation of only 8 senior athletes this was an excellent result, but a disappointment that we were unable to field a second team.
Box Hill was well represented in the early stages in the first quarter of the field, with all athletes moving freely. John Meagher ran his best race at this venue for some time, starting strongly and passing other athletes as the race progressed. With a strong finishing burst he finished in the top 10, a wonderful achievement, showing he still has many more excellent performances in him. Luke Yeatman has had some spectacular races this year and he was expecting a strong performance. However, he picked up a cold during the preceding week and ran a steady race further back in the field than his excellent relay form would have suggested. Dale Bickham has also performed well in the Winter races this year and he managed to place third of the Box Hill team in 32nd position. Not far behind him was Sam Hassett, 37th, who is slowly but surely getting fitter and improving with every run. Graeme Olden also competed with a bad cold and plugged away for 42nd place, probably one of his lower placings in recent years. Many lesser athletes would not have toed the starting line, and Graeme’s determination to compete and run for his club ensured the team placed third, a very pleasing performance without all available runners in the race. Chris O’Connor completed the Section 1 team with an unexpectedly good performance, given his unlucky run with injuries this year. He placed 49th on this tough unrelenting course. Adam Pepper and Tony Bird have been close to each other all season and this week Adam turned the tables on Tony again by a narrow margin, finishing 75th to Tony’s 76th, one-and-a-half seconds in advance.
The women’s race was run in pleasant sunny conditions, with Nicky Chapple running an impressive race to lead in our senior team members and Under 20 runners. Nicky was running close enough to the third placed runner to have a chance of picking up the bronze medal. However, Leah Rogers (Glen Huntly) showed sufficient determination to stay ahead of Nicky, who is having an excellent winter season. In the end Nicky was able to hold of her Diamond Valley opponent for fourth place. Audra Papworth ran a sensible even race and placed 32nd, 21 seconds in advance of Megan Sloane who ran evenly, finishing with a strong sprint. The Section 1 Women’s team managed 4th position, one of their best placings for some time. Carly Carmody was Box Hill’s final senior female athlete across the line placing 84th. Running in the same race were three of our Under 20 runners, all of whom performed well enough to secure the team’s race, an excellent achievement. Emily Smith placed 5th after losing touch with the leaders, just outlasting Jocelyn Keage, 6th, by a fraction of a second. Prue Healy placed 9th completing this winning team.