GARY SAUNDERS has wound back the clock to boast some of his fastest times ever in the Stawell Amateur Athletic cross country event.
The 72-year-old won for the third time in 13 races by running the fastest times he has posted in his own memory.
Flushed by his latest success in the five kilometre Andrew Darnell Memorial at Horsham last Saturday, the grey-bearded athlete had no easy answer to why his times had improved.
He is certainly fitter, with a dedicated program of stretching, strengthening and circuit work at the Stawell YMCA, but that's been part of his training regime for three years now and most of his improvement has happened this year.
"It might all go back to 1983," Saunders said.
"I cut a tendon all the way to the middle toe when I trod on glass carrying two kids into the Wimmera River at Glenorchy."
After several lots of repair work the injury never came good until five years ago.
During the long recovery the muscle wasted away as Saunders was trying to protect the foot, resulting in him being unbalanced when he ran.
Testament to that is the fact that his 2014 times, over all distances, from three kilometre to 10 kilometre, are faster than they were in 2008.
Conditions were favourable to him in the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club event on a fast, flat course on safer banks of the Wimmera.
In a race that he had won three times before he was certainly no stranger to the track.
Typically a fast starter who defies backmarkers to run him down, Saunders was always in control and was too strong for a determined Rachel Coverdale to post a 0.23 seconds win, with recent winner Matilda Iglesias third.
Promising youngster Rhys Bubb led the seniors for almost half a race and faded, but his 22.51 minutes was still too sharp for a gritty Luca O'Flynn in the junior division.
Bubb's brother Jonte finished with a withering burst to clinch the sub-juniors race from Jordan Nitshcke and Jacob Casey who chased hard.
Race action returns to the Ironbarks tomorrow for the five kilometre David O. Jones Stawell Mitre 10 Handicap.
Fun runners are welcome and can ring for details on 5356 2493.