Harriers ‘Home, again’ At Jells

“And We Will Come Back Home
And We Will Come Back Home
Home, again!”

Given your correspondent’s eldest daughter’s love for performing (being comfortable in front of a microphone obviously comes from the genes of some far off distant relative) there has been a lot of concerts of The Greatest Showman of late in your correspondent’s residence. One song from this album that stuck in the mind of your correspondent as he drove towards Jells Park for the beginning of the Athletics Victoria XCR’18 competition is called “From Now On” which features the lyrics quoted at the beginning of this article. The synergy of returning “home” and to the Malvern Harriers core business, running and competing as winter athletes proudly representing themselves and their club, could not have been stronger on this beautiful autumn’s morning. It was with a smile that we greeted the return of familiar faces and routines as the Harriers regathered for another year of competing and camaraderie. 

With conditions being so pristine that the club tent was not required, the Harriers hastily chased after bibs and safety pins dropped in the grass to prepare themselves for the day’s racing ahead. While many athletes were returning for another year it was great to have Claire Lawford (Amy’s sister) join us for her first Malvern Harriers appearance, Linda Barlow once again run for the Harriers and Myai Pham complete her first Athletics Victoria run for eight years. There was talk that this allowed Myai to actually indulge in some more cake from the tea box at race’s end but really it was great to have Myai running under the Malvern Harriers banner for Athletics Victoria.

Soon enough the sunny conditions had our athletes applying hats and sunscreen to try to stay cool and protected as they prepared for their runs. Some last minute illnesses and early departures saw various teams and running positions altered but eventually the Harriers gathered at the start line ready to run. Special mention must go the Malvern Harriers Women’s 50+ team of Linda Barlow (30.00), Caroline Howard (33.37) and a fast finishing and fatigued-leg ignoring Michelle Jelleff (28.25) who won the GOLD MEDAL for finishing first in their age group. Congratulations ladies!!! While the ladies proudly showed off their gold medals during the race debrief, perhaps the only disappointment was that they didn’t partake in celebrations to the extent of the Botswana men’s 4x400m gold medal relay team at the recent Commonwealth Games who immediately dropped for a round of pushups as uncannily mentioned by Michelle before the event began. Guess we’ll just have to wait til the next relay (no pressure…or not much). 

All other ladies teams did the Harriers proud. The Women’s Division 2 team finished 8th with Eilidh (26.02), Frances (31.02), Amy (23.59) and Tracey (22.57) all running extremely competitively. The Women’s Division 5 team came in 7th thanks to the efforts of Jay (37.16), Claire with a great start to cross-country racing (29.56) and Myai (30.50). Well done ladies!

Malvern’s men are back racing in Division 3 for the XCR’18 season. First off for this team was Chris Rayment who revelled in the cross-country conditions to run 24.13 while other strong performers were Marcus (23.07), David (24.25) and Shaun Green (23.28) who was running at an extremely quick pace for the first lap and a half until hurting his calf. We wish you a speedy recovery, Shaun! Unfortunately, your correspondent can only say that his legs were so dead on the second lap that the Commonwealth Bank were about to start charging fees on them [Ed: Damien ran a scorching 21.38]. Due to illness the Men’s Division 4 team did not register an official place but special mention must still go to Michael McNamara upon his return from his injured turf toe to run 25.59 while Marco (32.12) and Greg (27.47) ran very strong races and Chris Harvey was all heart to run his 23.43.

Once again the traditional post-race debrief took place around the club teabox. Special thanks were given to our club helpers on the day being Helen, Francis and Dan while Chris Rayment was the recipient of the day’s sock award. The beautiful outlook over the mountains and descending autumn evening hue were only disrupted by the site of the Athletics Waverley serving post-race beers and BBQ sausages in the adjacent tent which was something to make some runners as jealous as the contestants on Bachelor in Paradise to those offered a rose on the weekly rose ceremony. Ultimately it was a successful day for the Harriers upon their return “home” to racing for another year.