Carina Clarke can thank the participation of friends in the ninth series of TV's The Biggest Loser for her maiden win in a cross country race at Ararat last Sunday.
At the time in 2014, Ararat was identified as "Victoria's fattest town" and local qualifiers were obliged to compete in rigorous "Boot Camps" to lose weight and build confidence with a view to changing their lives.
"I was swept up in it a bit by the people I knew and was encouraged to improve my fitness," Clarke said after her success in the 6.5 kilometre Reynolds Family Handicap at Rhymney.
"In those days, I thought 100 metres was a long distance and would only run to catch a train or a bus, but then I surprised myself when challenged to run for twelve minutes without stops and found that it's something almost anyone can do."
It was, in fact, a bit harder for Clarke to do because the Ararat schoolteacher suffers from a rheumatic condition that required three knee surgeries in the years following her debut with the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club in 2016.
Even now when competing she adopts a "run and walk" regimen to help relieve pressure on her troublesome knee...but it is "a fast walk" she assures club mates.
On Sunday, she thanked co-sponsor Anna Reynolds for showing her the way around the course and serving as "someone to chase."
"I didn't even try. I kept Anna in sight and was content to run second when I couldn't catch her. I couldn't believe it when told that Anna ran on invitation (not a member) and that I had won!"
The margin, in the end, was decisive. Clarke had just on 0.44 seconds to spare from tenacious chaser, Paula Pettingill, with young speedster and backmarker Gabriel Tonks closing fast into third place.
The club travels to Great Western this Saturday to join the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club for the eight kilometre Best's Wines Cross Country Classic. Fun runners are welcome.
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