Yinnar athlete Steven Quirk completed a successful clean sweep of the winter season Gippsland Championships with a hard fought win in last Sunday’s 12 kilometre road title.
In contrast, Sandra Timmer-Arends won the women’s title by a comfortable margin.
Both title winners were awarded the Swaggy Wilson perpetual trophy, presented in memory of former Traralgon Harrier stalwart Geoff ‘Swaggy’ Wilson.
In a nice touch of symmetry, Geoff’s wife Anne presented the trophy, a short time after she had won the women’s 6 km event, run concurrently with the championships.
After a clear win in the 12 km cross-country crown in June, and a gutsy Traralgon Marathon victory, followed this month by the 25 km road title, it seemed Quirk would whitewash the Gippsland Championships.
When Darrel Cross - potentially Quirk’s biggest threat, and who finished hot on his heels in the 12 km cross country at Moe - suffered a leg injury in a training accident, the experts would have further shortened the odds on Quirk.
And despite the current good form of locals Nick Schilling and Ian Twite, third and fourth at Moe, and with Roger Maximiw and Richard Comber also pressing Quirk when they ran second and third in the 25 km title, the wiry – read tough – Yinnar runner was still favourite.
However in unseasonably sunny and energy-sapping weather, Quirk had another runner still by his side at the turn-around mark in Old Maffra Road.
With both men on a scorching three-and-a-half minute kilometre pace, Nenet Susa stayed with Quirk, with daylight between the duelling pair and the next group of Schilling, Maximiw and Comber.
Quirk said, “I was running tired, after a hard few weeks running, and Nenet seemed pretty comfortable.”
“Since the (Traralgon) marathon I had trained for the Vic championships – shorter distance events – and felt I lacked stamina.”
“Nenet had finished 50 seconds ahead of me last year, and I didn’t want a ‘sprint’ finish, so I made a move at the foot of Cemetery Hill,” Quirk explained.
“I was surprised that I was able to build a gap of about 50 metres, but Nenet stayed on my heels to the finish,” he said.
“It wasn’t until I turned into Douglas Parade, near the finish line, that I knew I had it won, and I was really gone – it was the pressure from Nenet that meant I had to go hard,” Quirk said.
Morwell physical education teacher Nick Schilling was third, two minutes further back, and only six seconds ahead of Maximiw, with Comber finishing in fifth position. Ian Twite, forced to drop out of the recent 25 km championship race with a calf injury, made a ‘gutsy’ return to finish in sixth place.
Sandra Timmer-Arends continued her steady return to peak condition with a comfortable winning margin in the women’s division, ahead of Melissa Jones. Peta Mullens, third, was a minute ahead of fourth placed woman, Penny Burgess.
The current Australian women’s 50 km record holder, and a former Victorian half-marathon champion, Timmer-Arends is a tremendous role model for younger women athletes in the Latrobe Valley.
In the six kilometre road race, Derek Evans, Special Olympics medal winner, returned to best form, winning ahead of Sam Quirk, with younger brother Ben Quirk in third place.
Glengarry junior Tanya Eagle pushed Anne Wilson before Wilson won the women’s section ahead of Eagle, with Karen Joyce running a well judged race to finish a close third.


Swaggy Wilson 12 km Gippsland Road Championships:

Steven Quirk 42.59 (1st Vet)
Nenet Susa 43.22
Nick Schilling 45.41
Roger Maximiw 45.47 (2nd vet)
Richard Comber 46.24
Ian Twite 47.18 (3rd Vet)
Bruce Salisbury 47.46
Matt Franke 47.58
Kevin Piercy 49.01
Dennis Stevens 49.15
Sandra Timmer-Arends 49.27 (1st female)
Matt Mullens 50.41
Rob Embleton 50.42
Shaun Cattanach 52.22
Matt Kaandorp 52.5
Melissa Jones 54.47 (2nd female)
Chris Peek 55.26
Ian Heafield 55.39
Peta Mullens 56.01 (3rd female)
Gary Henry 56.02
Penny Burgess 57.00 (1st vet female)
Ken Lancaster 60.08
David Graham 61.55
Lee Graham 61.55 (2nd Vet female)
John Jervis 62.34
Kim Essex 62.52
Denise Twite 62.56 (3rd Vet female)
Russell Mullens 63.07
Bill Rutherford 68.29
Fay Tomholt 76.12
Belinda Issell 76.13
6km road race  
Derek Evans 27.46
Sam Quirk 28.11
Ben Quirk 29.18
David Embleton 33.41
teve Eagle 33.51
Anne Wilson 35.05
Andy Munro 36.04
Tanya Eagle 36.16
Karen Joyce 36.26
Jason Zwetsloot 39.29
Fran Renehan 40.42
Carmel Quirk 40.46
Tony Van G 46.05
Kerry Mullens 46.59


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