Sue Blizzard insisted that her good friend and running mate Shevahn Healy “must win” the first running of the Blizzard Handicap at Ararat last Sunday and Healy was as surprised as anyone when she did.
“I had Sue’s words ringing in my ears when I started the race,” Healy said,” but I never paid much attention to speed because these days I have to listen to my body and run as I feel.”
“I’d never won a 10 kilometre race before and really didn’t know where I was going on a course I’d never seen. I just followed the guy in front of me and hoped for the best.”
Healy missed all of the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club’s season in 2017 after a spate of injuries.
“Now I’m running with a shin splint problem and mentally I feel scarred by it all but today, for some reason, my legs went faster than my brain.”
Suddenly six minutes faster than her effort over the same distance at Stawell the week before, Healy found that she had over a minute to spare from Peter Gibson upon reaching the timekeepers. Sandra Bywaters climbed the podium for the first time this year in third place.
Healy’s rapid improvement is in tandem with her increased workload training with Blizzard to run the New York Marathon in November.
“We’re averaging 40 kilometres a week at the moment, in fact I’m going to run another six kilometres now, but we’re building up to 50 kilometres next week,” she said.
HUNTER PREYS ON MARATHON
David Hunter’s late decision to run the Melbourne Marathon in October was a key factor in him notching up his second cross country win for the season with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club.
Having won the eight-kilometre Lindsay Kent Memorial in May, Hunter drifted in and out of form and motivation before he decided last month to have a crack at his second marathon.
“I’ve had to step up my training and managed to do a 16 kilometre run during the week and that’s helped to improve my fitness,” the 40-year-old landscape gardener said.
“I ran a bit of a shocker last week, but that was the first 10km race I’ve had since last year and I just wasn’t switched on.”
Relishing the downhill run at the start of the Stawell Handicap, Hunter had overtaken the first of the front-markers inside the first kilometre and was encouraged to press on.
Matilda Iglesias chased hard but failed by to catch Hunter with last year’s winner, Vicki Tyler, in third.
“I’m feeling a lot better now than I did at this time last year,” Hunter said.
“Last year, at the end of a race like this, I’d hardly be able to walk.”
In the off season, Hunter underwent an operation to fuse an arthritic big toe which required weeks of “non-weight-bearing rest,” the support of crutches and a “moon boot” post-op.
“I thought I’d need another operation on the other foot as well, but so far it’s holding up. I’m feeling no pain and I’d like to improve on the 4.20 hours I ran in my first marathon a couple of years ago.”
It was a satisfying morning for the Hunter family with daughters Chloe and Olivia fighting out the finish of the one kilometre Sub-Juniors race.