PJ masterful to snare Gift
NEARLY 59 and having regained winning form, Ipswich athlete Peter "PJ" Reeves wants to compete at the next World Masters Games in Australia.
After Saturday's incredible victory in The Queensland Times One Mile Gift, he's well on his way.
Perhaps more importantly, Reeves proved what older competitors can achieve through hard work and setting goals.
A slogan on the shirt of another athlete - "pain is weakness leaving the body" - typified PJ's commitment.
Reeves took advantage of his 300m handicap in a class field to lead all the way on the Ipswich Turf Club sand track.
In a winning time of four minutes, 8.72 seconds, the frontrunner held out strong finishing training partners Patrick Tierman and Ipswich-based Glen Yarham, who were backmarker and second backmarker.
The first three were coached by Sport Australia Hall of Fame inductee Pat Clohessy, a feat Reeves was eager to acknowledge.
"I have to pay a compliment to Pat Clohessy," the Eastern Heights athlete said.
"We've been preparing for this race.
"I was injured a lot last year and he said 'well you can't wait forever'.
"I've been a friend with Pat for a long time and he encourages me to keep me going."
Reeves was clearly tired after his gallant effort.
However, he deserved the $3000 first prize and the accolades. He's rated top 20 in the world for his age over 5km and has won Australian masters titles in 1500m.
Hoping to contest the World Masters Games in four years, Reeves showed he's still a respected competitor.
Third placegetter Yarham knew 50 years of athletics experience would make PJ a force.
"Reevesy used to be a runner in Ipswich and everyone knows him," said Yarham, who finished 15th representing Australia at the recent World University Cross Country Championships.
"Having him as a frontmarker was always going to be a challenge to chase him down."
Yarham, 20, could have blamed jetlag for not winning back-to-back titles, having only arrived back in Australia, from Poland, on Monday. He didn't.
"I was extremely happy considering I hadn't done any quick stuff this year," Yarham said.
"I thought I might have got blown away by some of the quicker boys but I kept in there and gave them a run for their money."
Backmarker Yarham and training partner Tierman showed the importance of tactics in tough handicap racing.
"Pat was five metres ahead of me so I was just going to tag on the back of him and us two work together and go through the field," Yarham said.
"That was the plan."
Saturday's seventh One Mile Gift program was supported by Ipswich Hospital Foundation, Queensland Athletics League, Queensland Athletics, Ipswich Turf Club, Stockland and the QT.