Rhydian Cowley: An Enjoyable Cross Country Running Season XCR’14

Rhydian Cowley in action 1

With no walk events on at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, my winter this year was looking to be much quieter than previous years, with no reason to spend it chasing summer and races around the world. A welcome upside to this was that I had an opportunity to compete in more XCR competitions than in years gone by.

While competing overseas against the best in the world is great fun, there is nothing quite like grass-roots athletics, and although I ply my trade for Australia as a racewalker, I love running just as much, and will take any chance I can get to race, be it walking or running, as an alternative to doing a training session by myself. The chance to socialise and make friends with people of all ages who are competing because they love their sport is also great, and there’s something to be said for Glenhuntly’s post-race afternoon/morning tea as well.

I know that won’t be competing on the world stage forever, but I’d hope that when the time comes, my body will still be in good enough shape for me to keep competing in the same way that we have seen the likes of Chris Wardlaw, Len Johnson and Sonia O’Sullivan doing this season, and that I’m still enjoying my sport

Although this winter was looking quiet on the international front, that didn’t stop me missing the first round at Jells Park by being in China competing in the Racewalking World Cup. However, I was able to return in time to attend round 2 at Lardner Park and test out my little practised fence jumping skills. The course was a challenging one, and although I was well placed early in the race, my lack of running showed as I fell back to 8th place at the finish. I was glad to find out later that the Division One team had managed to sneak a 2nd place, improving greatly from our first round’s 9th place.

The feeling of ‘running out of legs’ towards the end of races was to be a familiar one throughout the season, as my base fitness only got me so far before my body reminded me of its limitations.  Despite that, I managed to finish in the top 20 in all of the XCR14 races I competed at, with my best races being Lardner Park, Brimank Park (9th) and the Sandown Relays (4th in the first leg, 6th fastest time on day), and added Lake Wendouree in Ballarat to the list of courses that I’ve run at.

Rhydian Cowley in action Ballarat race (left) and Albert Park race (right)

Although there were some days that I felt I didn’t perform that well, I felt it was important to remember to put my runs in perspective. What might not seem good for me is still quite a good performance to others, and given that I train for walking, not running, I should probably not expect too much of myself – sometimes it is hard to fight those competitive instincts that makes one hate losing with a realistic appraisal of where one is at. At the same time, it is important not to let good performances inflate your expectations too much, even if it means you get TV and Chris Wardlaw telling you to  “drop the novelty event and focus on running”. And on the bright side, it’s not every race where you get to overtake Box Hill’s Steve Kelly twice in one race thanks to a nature stop and his own tough day in the office.

Athletics is often an individual sport, but the team aspect of the cross country season makes it more enjoyable beyond the up and down of individual performances. It was exciting to be a part of Glenhuntly’s fight for podium finishes in Division 1, especially when we were able to field teams strengthened by the likes of Toby Rayner, the seemingly ageless Craig Semple, and Josh Papanikolaou, because it meant that I was a part of something bigger than just my own performance.

Perhaps more exciting than being on a team with proven top performers was seeing the emergence of some asked to step up in relays. Ben Kelly’s runs in the Sandown and Tan relays were very impressive, and Beau Lang showed he was good enough for Division 1 a number of times as well. Relays often give the younger guys like Ben a chance to prove themselves, and they rarely disappoint. Since I’m often focused on my own performance while I’m running, the chance to watch others perform is another thing I like about the relays during the cross country season.

All up, 2014 was a very enjoyable XCR season for me. Although I largely planned it to be a part of my base training load in preparation for Beijing 2015 and Rio 2016, the opportunity to race with friends, and make new ones, made it one of the best and most fun ways to improve my fitness over the winter. I was extremely glad to be able to compete in so much of the season this year, and I’m honoured to have won the Outstanding Senior Team Person award for this season as a result of that.

Although it may be a while before I’m again able to race almost the entire XCR season, I hope that my schedule in coming years allows me to at least make regular appearances in the baby blue.

XCR’14 Round 9 – Tan Relay Championships – Report and Photos

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Juniors

Another great day for running and some terrific results from our Junior boy’s teams. Ben Kelly We had teams in U18 and two in U16. We were just one runner short for U20 so (12:02) and Jack Marquardt(12:33) moved up into Senior competition with excellent results. Ben ran second fastest in Division 1 and Jack was fastest club runner in Division 2.

Under 18: A great second placing behind U18 AV winter premiers, Western Athletics, by just 13 seconds. All boys ran well with Sam Toll (12:06) showing his outstanding improvement this season with a second fastest time in the age group. Sam completes an excellent season as club junior winter champion and one highlighted by his determination and team orientation. Jack Higham (13:03) continues to show his talent and with more regular competition we nare yet to see the best of him. Chris Hibbert (12:33) led the team off well and showed the benefits of a solid APS season. Well done team.

Jack H, Chris H & Sam T

Under 16: We had two teams run in this age group, courtesy of being one short for an U14 team. Two of the boys were U14. A fantastic performance from all our runners. We won the race and our second team were 4th from 12 starters. We defeated Box Hill by 22 seconds and Western Athletics 3rd, U16 winter premiers, in what proved a great result for the club. Haftu Strintzos (12:59) anchored the team with a fourth fastest age group effort. Jasper Pickering (14:01) led the first team off and ran a solid leg despite soreness. Will Ockenden (13:27) capped off a great season to be part of this Gold Medal winning team. Team 2, comprising two U14 boys, were led off in fantastic fashion by Max Meuleman (13:13) the fifth faster in U16 age group. We haven’t seen a lot of Max this winter, soccer commitments, but gee it was a great effort. Cody Bellgrove (15:11), just turned 13, ran very well and shows a lot of talent. Adam Spencer (14:23) completed a great season with a fine run. Adam, just 12yo, has huge talent and showed this when he won the All Schools XC title in July. A top effort from the team.

Well, the season is now over and I would like to thank all boys for their efforts and support of the team. I hope you enjoyed your competition and are now setting your sights on a productive summer track season.

I would also like to thank all parents who came along in support of their sons and who helped officiate when required. This is a terrific support group.

Open Men

A slightly under strength Div 1 team ran well, finishing in 9th place for the day to hold outright 5th place for the season. Beau Lang was given the tough job of starting against a strong field, and ran nearly a minute better than last year, capping off a great season for him. We were again lucky to have Ben Kelly up from U20s to run the 3rd leg; he was our second fastest runner for the day.

Like last year, Rhydian Cowley anchored the team to record another sub-12 lap. James Alexander, Julian Kuppler and Nigel Preston all recorded great times for our top team in the middle stages of the race. Peter Hulbert, Declan Murphy (again up from the junior teams) & Chris Allan all ran big PBs on the day. There were some last minute changes to the lineups, but we still managed to fill all seven open teams plus three masters teams.

Open and Masters Women

It was great to finish the cross country season on a high, with an excellent turnout from the women and a beautiful day to race around the botanical gardens.  -In the open women we had hunter teams in the first four divisions, plus an invite team from Run Monash in division 5.

  • Helen, Gill and Franky made up the 40+ team, finishing an impressive 4th.  -With the top two premierships secured the pressure was off but the premier division still ran a hard race and finished with silver medals.
  • Running personal bests Karinna (13.08) and Amelia (13.10) ran the fastest times for the hunters and second and third fastest times overall for the women.  -Despite early pressure from Doncaster, division 2 finished 1st
  • Along with Karinna and Amelia, PBs were run by Anna S, Cass, Stacey, Simone, Paulina and Anne Wallace.  -Danielle, Gill and Jackie ran impressive times in their first Tan relays and we were very thankful for Anne who stepped up from juniors to join the division 3 team.

 

Div 1 Girls
Winners – Division 1 – XCR’14

Congratulations to everyone on an excellent season, we hope you all thoroughly enjoyed it and we look forward to seeing you again for XCR15!!

For complete hunter’s result please see the following link: Tan Relays – 2014.

Hunters’s photo available through the following link: Album

Report prepared by: Phil Hutton, Cass Higham and Simon Bowly

Results prepared by: Trevor Vincent

Photos prepared by: Tony C Wilson

XCR’14 Round 8: Burnley Half Marathon – Report and Results

Open Women 

With the season almost over the half marathon rounded out the last of the individual events. Despite disappointing numbers we had 5 girls running who created some great results.
  • After a couple of 4th place finishes recently, Amelia claimed bronze and her first podium finish in the XCR season
  • Stacey made her second appearance in the top 10 with a huge 9 minute PB
  • Sarah cruised in, despite treating it as a comfortable long run, she still broke 90 minutes
  • Amelia, Stacey and Sarah have impressively competed in every event this season
  • Laura rounded out the division 1 team with a huge 12 minute PB
  • Of all the girls who competed last year Alice was the only one to back it up this year; she had a great run and finished inside the top 50
There’s only one round left and we are in a great position to claim premierships in divisions 1 and 2. The Tan relays are arguably the most enjoyable event of the season so hopefully we have a great turnout for the last round and create a sea of baby blue on the day!
3rd Place for Amelia
3rd Place for Amelia
Open Men 
Who said long races meant smaller numbers?  Perfect conditions for the Burnley half marathon saw 27 men take to the road, a fantastic turnout for a tough distance to conquer. There was a long list of PB runners for the day, including Nigel Preston, Ben Howe, Michael Comport.  All were eclipsed by Chris Allan however, who took a remarkable 11 minutes off his time for the same race just last year.
Craig Semple and Rhydian Cowley once again led the charge for the Hunters in the lead pack, both finishing in the top 20.  They were joined by stalwarts Peter Macknamara and Julian Kuppler, plus newcomer Tim Tucey to round out Division 1. Their efforts saw our top team finish in fourth place for the day, also leapfrogging Frankston in the season standings to move us into fourth place with just the Tan to be run to finish off the winter.
Thanks to our great depth we filled 6 teams for the day and will go into the final relays next weekend with many teams well positioned overall.
Chris M & Richard
Chris M & Richard

For complete hunter’s results at Burnley Half Marathon please see the following link: Half Marathon – Burnley – results 2014

Photos from Burnley Half Marathon are available through the following link: Album

Report prepared by: Cass Higham & Simon Bowly 

Results prepared by: Trevor Vincent

Photo album prepared by: Tony C Wilson  

A Moment With Max. What’s happening and where we’re headed.

It is now 4 months since the election of our new Committee and we are keen to keep the Club moving toward a bright future. Firstly I would like to, on your behalf, thank the people who generously gave their time on the Committee under the stewardship of Grant Smethurst. Last year was a very successful year of Club activity and your efforts were appreciated, and for those of you who have not re-joined the Committee this year we hope you continue to contribute to the Club. Maybe we can get some European reports from Chris Winter as part of our extended recruiting territory.

Sometimes a look back into history can provide a glimpse into the future. Back in the “olden days” when I first joined The Hunters we produced a weekly newsletter which contained results, Club social activities, profiles of new members, local issues that included council matters and general gossip as well as the teams and locations for the following round of “Interclub” as it was then called. Our current Committee thinks we don’t have enough communication with our membership despite the great efforts of TV, Tony Wilson and a few others. We think that the availability of modern media will help us to do better at communicating with you. Nenad Radosevic, Justin Cohen and Tony Wilson have formed a Communications Sub-Committee and they want to know what you think we should be doing and how we should be communicating with you.

They would also like to know what skills you have that could help the Club grow, whether you have 10 mins to contribute or can commit to much more time. Shortly they will be sending out a survey to all members seeking your thoughts. Please take 10 minutes to complete and return it so that Glenhuntly Athletics can provide you with the activities and events you need.

For my part I will update you as often as I can with what’s happening at the Committee level. Included will be building developments, track replacement, AV competition and any policy positions we need to take. Starting right now!

Building – the Duncan Mackinnon (DMack) pavilion has been challenging to everyone. Scheduled completion was April 2014 but a dispute between builder and Council has led to a parting of ways and the appointment of a new builder – Fimma Constructions. They have commenced work and the new completion date is August 2015. We wish them good luck and kind weather. I can tell you officially the rumours around failing foundations and/or steel work are and were always incorrect.

Track – Council has appointed a designer to work on the track re-surface which is slotted in for the 2015-16 capital works program. We made need to do some fund raising to assist in ensuring it remains in that budget so we get the upgrade next season. On Monday 18th August Council staff organised an opportunity for the athletics tenants to meet with the Designer. The discussion was fruitful and we are optimistic that we will get an outcome that suits our needs. Council staff have the challenge of trying to regain the funding lost following the federal election so the re-surfacing of the track and re-alignment of the horizontal jump pits, increasing the back straight to 10 full lanes and improving the high jump and shot put area are all achievable in the 2015-16 financial year. More information to come I am sure.

Membership – with the great work TV and Len are doing at Monash Uni we have seen a steady flow of members from the Uni to our Club. We have recently had discussions with Monash and we are both keen to formalise our relationship further and grow our Club membership, particularly in the recreational/fitness member space. There are other initiatives we are looking at that will also grow our membership in this category. If you have an interest in being involved either in coaching fitness runners/joggers/walkers or helping organise groups at DMack or elsewhere, please let me know. The area we are also keen to boost is junior membership. We need a Junior Coordinator who can organise some events for our juniors…again a bit of history. In the 1980s our Junior Coordinators used to have pie nights or fish and chip nights and show videos and play video games etc with the juniors and we were very strong in numbers. If there are a couple of parents or senior members who are interested in starting a similar initiative give me a call.

Apparel – we have a distinctive club logo and symbol but we don’t see it on enough gear. The hoodies have proven very popular and so too the T-shirts President Greg Varigos designed and procured a few years ago. But we need a strong line of apparel so you can proudly show off your membership of the Hunters. Mick Ryan is setting up a Sub-Committee to pursue some quality apparel for you to purchase and show off to the rest of the world. Talk to him if you would like to be on the sub-committee, especially if you have contacts that can help us get quality products at reasonable prices or you have a design bent or sporting apparel expertise.

Let one of the Committee members know of your ideas to grow the Club and to improve the quality of Club membership experiences. And let us know what you will do to help.

Go Hunters.

Max Binnington
President
Glenhuntly Athletics

XCR’14 Round 7: Lake Wendouree Road Race – Report and Results

Junior Women

Due to a number of other commitments quite a number of our ‘regulars’ were unavailable for this event – but we did manage another great team victory with the U18 Girls.

Needing to score well to stay in the hunt for the U18 premiership we saw 4 Hunter females toe the line – and as we needed just 3 to make up a team we had great insurance.

Dana Dekkers put in yet another terrific team effort to pick up 3rd & the individual Bronze Medal, with Kaitlin Barr a fine 7th – ahead on Jess Clarke 15th & Tash Ockenden 19th. So with just 1 event to go for the Juniors (Tan Relays) our U18s look to be in an unbeatable situation – congratulations.
Our sole runner in the U20 race was Anne Wallace who finished a terrific 7th.

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Dana Dekkers – 3rd Place

Junior Men

It was a great day for a run along the shores of the famed Lake Wendouree; the home of the Moneghetti trail. It was a cold day (isn’t it always cold in Ballarat?) with a cold wind off the lake, but in the sheltered areas quite pleasant.

We had four boys make the trip, two U18 and two U16, so again we were without a team in the junior age groups.

In the U18s Sam Toll 16:12 continues his outstanding efforts with a 5th placing in preparation for his run next weekend in the Australian titles. He also finished fifth in the Individual champion athlete award. A great year Sam. Declan Murphy 18:09 continues to improve after injury and finished with a solid 28th. A great team man.

In the U16s Will Ockenden 17:42 continues his significant improvement this season and impressed with a top run for 6th place, just beating Jasper Pickering 17:52 who finished eighth. Jasper has been mixing football with XC and apparently has done well with his team contesting the finals. Well done boys.

Also a very big thank you to the mums and dads who continue to support their sons and our teams. It is a great group and one that we should try hard to extend to enable teams in all junior grades.

Now there’s a challenge. Lets try it.

Any ideas?

Go Hunters

PS See the photos on the club website

Junior’s Manager Phil Hutton and Junior Boys

Open & Masters Women

Lake Wendouree lived up to its frosty and windy weather last Saturday for our 15km road run. In a repeat of the 10km Karinna and Amelia finished in 2nd and 4th positions. Julia continued her terrific form with another top 10 finish.
Laura surprised herself taking close to 10 minutes from her 15km best; while Amelia, Cass and Stacey ran huge personal bests on the course.
We happily welcomed back Bridget Corcoran, her first AV race in two seasons, she ran extremely well on a tough course.
Division 1 took another win extending their lead on the ladder. Division 2 finished an impressive 3rd. Running a solid race, Robyn was our only masters representative.

Enjoy a couple of weeks break before the half marathon, see you all there!

Karrina Fyfe - 2nd Place
Karrina Fyfe – 2nd Place

Open Men

Conditions for the 15k road race in Ballarat this week were cold enough to have TV stealing everyone’s jackets while they ran!  With this in mind, it was fantastic to have nearly 30 Hunter men complete the 15k course around Lake Wendouree.

Josh, Craig and Rhydian all put in fantastic runs to finish in the top 20.  Ben Howe is proving himself to be one of the biggest improvers of the season, running a 5 minute PB to record his first Division 1 placing for this winter.  Beau Lang and Peter Macknamara also ran PBs to contribute to a strong 5th placing by our top team.

Great results in other divisions as well.  All our Division 2 runners finished under the 1 hour barrier, and our remaining teams were also well placed.  Notable big PBs of the day came from Matt Larkin, Matt Wynne, Chris Allan and Ian Henderson.

The road race distances are building to a peak, with just the half marathon to go. Hope everyone’s keen to take on the long distance!

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Ben Howe in action

Master Men

Round 7 of XCR’14 saw the Hunters converge on the banks of Lake Wendouree in Ballarat. With the cold wind blowing straight off the water, I think it is fair to say that the coldest place in Ballarat was exactly where we pitched our club tent!

Once the race started, the cold was forgotten as the Hunters continued the great form that has been shown all season.

 In the 40+ division:

  •  Superstar Craig Semple (49:26) finished 1st in 40-44 again (and a brilliant 15th overall), as he has done in the other three events he has competed in this season. Hopefully Craig will compete at Burnley to seal the 40-44 individual title.
  • Peter Macknamara (54:35) finished 8th in 40-44, and holds down 4th place on the ladder.
  • With Chris Allan posting an excellent (and huge PB) 1:02:17, the 40+ team finished in 3rd place and stay in 4th on the ladder.
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Chris Allan in action

In the 50+ division:

  • The absence of dual Hunter Masters’ Athlete of the Year Paul Strangio saw Andrew Ross (57:50) lead the way, from a close finish between Roland Soderstrom (59:46), Victor Cook (1:00:04) and Mick Ryan (1:00:52).
  • I must take this opportunity to mention that this was Andrew’s (i.e. my) first top-10 finish in an XCR race, finishing 7th in the 50-54 category.
  • Also Roland finished 10th in 50-54, to score another point on the individual ladder.
  • Despite missing our main man, our depth saw us finish second in the 50+ age group, and hold our place on top of the ladder. Three points ahead with 2 rounds to go!

In the 60+ division:

  •  Chris Wardlaw (1:04:51) finished 7th and stays in second place on the ladder.
  • Len Johnson (1:07:57) finished 9th for his third top-10 finish for the season.

Well done to everyone who competed in tough conditions. See you at Burnley!

For complete hunter’s results at Lake Wendouree Road Race please see the following link: Road Race 15k – Ballarat – 2014

Report & Results prepared by: Trevor Vincent, Cass Higham, Phil Hutton, Simon Bowly & Andrew Ross.

Chris Winter: Running in Japan

Chris Winter

While sumo is Japan’s national sport and baseball is widely considered its most popular pastime, running is a significant part of Japanese culture. The Japanese did, of course coin the familiar word ekiden, referring to a long distance running relay race. The first ekiden race took place in Japan almost 100 years ago between the old capital, Kyoto and present day capital, Tokyo.

Just your average Wednesday night at Oda field track.

Eager to continue my running routine in Japan, I researched running groups in Tokyo before leaving Melbourne on March 24. The first link that appeared was for Namban Rengo, Tokyo’s international running group. The group comprises approximately 50% Japanese and 50% foreigners. Interval sessions are held every Wednesday night, with a 5km time trial on the last Wednesday of the month. We train at the Oda field track in Yoyogi, also home to Japan’s 1964 Olympic Stadium. As Wednesday is the only night the track can be used for free, athletes flock from all across town. It is not unusual for 150 sprinters, distance runners and walkers to be using the track at once. A testament to Japan’s orderly way of doing things, there are no collisions! The custom of removing your shoes before entering a dwelling is not lost in the athletics community, with running shoes neatly arranged outside the change room.

In Japan, there is no club athletics scene such as you find in Victoria. After graduating from high school, serious athletes will either compete for their university or company. Aforementioned ekiden relays feature heavily between January and March, the most famous race taking place on New Year’s Day. Stakes are high, with the top universities recruiting talented athletes from Kenya on scholarships to bolster their team. September through to November sees a series of graded track races over 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 metres. As many as 30 heats are filled for each distance. The Africans once again make the journey across due to the high quality competition.

The highlight of my running so far in Japan has been my involvement in the Fuji Mountain Race.  The race attracts accomplished mountain runners from Japan and abroad, as they attempt to run the gruelling 21km to reach the summit.

Chris at the Fuji Mountain Race
Chris at the Fuji Mountain Race

My motivation for taking on this challenge was to raise awareness and funds for the battle against Motor Neurone Disease (MND). MND kills two people every day. Sadly, my cousin Mark was diagnosed with this terminal disease earlier this year. He is only 40. With the help of family and friends back home, I have raised over $2,500 to date. I would like to thank the Glenhuntly community for their generous donations and messages of support. While the race is over, my challenge to raise $5,000 for MND Victoria continues.

To donate, please visit https://www.mycause.com.au/page/fujisummitformnd and get behind this great cause!

View from the 8th Station of Mt Fuji
View from the 8th Station of Mt Fuji

I continue to follow the progress of the club throughout various competitions. While I do not have a set return date, there are many goals I still wish to achieve with Glenhuntly, such as winning a Winter Division 1 premiership with TV as team manager! If you are in Tokyo, please don’t hesitate to email me at winter_ace@hotmail.com and be sure to include a run with Namban Rengo.

Go Hunters!

Written by: Chris Winter