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By Jamie Strudley

Several of the tougher members of Yarra Ranges Athletics made the long drive up to Ballarat for a race around Lake ‘Windoree’ – Wendouree – on Saturday 4 August.

They were greeted with cloudy skies, strong icy wind and an understanding of why we only had a small team for this meet!

The juniors had to complete one lap of the lake (6 kilometres).

Harry Norman kicked Yarra Ranges Athletics off to a great start with second overall and Madeline Laven proved that broken bones couldn’t stop her, with a close-fought second place in the girls under-14.

Next up was the open men and women who had to complete two full laps plus an out and back.

This meant three times running into a headwind that felt more like a brick wall.

Seamus Dwyer lead Yarra Ranges Athletics home with a strong performance despite initial worries that he might not make it to the start, as his little pink watch couldn’t pick up satellites.

Next in was Michael Clarke, who rose to the tough conditions and stormed through the field after lap one.

Lauren Starr was first lady, despite sufferring with a stomach ache – next time she should follow coach’s advice and find a tree a puke behind it.

James Anderson completed his first long run since the Gold Coast marathon and ran a controlled effort.

Andy Searles made the wise call to pull out at 7km with a sore foot, although there are suspicions as this happened to be at the time his girlfriend passed him.

Graham Coutts put in a strong effort despite a dodgy knee and the ever-consistent Bryan Ackerly was right behind him.

Georgia Brock had a fantastic run, completing her longest road race in well under goal time and beating coach in the process.

Jamie Strudley dodged a bullet and made it in under 70 minutes, confirming that he wouldn’t be hanging up the racing flats any day soon.

Craig Hewitson rounded out the men’s team in stirling fashion, continuing his triumphant return to racing.

Laura DiGregorio had a sensational run and Katie Clarke was just behind.

A little more sun and less wind would be nice for next round at Anglesea in two weeks.

The rest of the Yarra Ranges athletes headed to Cockatoo to compete for the annual Hills Challenge trophy.

The prestigious silverware has been with the club for the past four years.

The weather had been kind to the venue so, by and large, the course was steady under foot.

The late night rain did make some parts slippery.

The event includes five races, from 500 metres to 3km, and each runner can run as many races as they want to help accrue points for their club along the way.

Yarra Ranges had at least 50 runners, but many of its older and more experienced runners were away on other events and the club finished second to Pakenham.

The club welcomes all athletes of any age or ability. Visit yarrarangesathletics.org.au.

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