2016 will see the 40th running of Albury-Wodonga’s Nail Can Hill Run.
While it’s a time to celebrate a great milestone in the history of this event, it will also be a time of some sadness following the recent passing of Max Scherleitner.
Max’s name has been synonymous with the race since it started in 1977.
He arrived in Australia from Austria in 1955 and soon moved to Albury to take up employment at the Young Street Flour Mills.
Max was always an adventurer and soon found the ski fields of North East Victoria, often riding his bike laden with camping gear from Albury to Falls Creek whenever he had time off work.
In the early 1970’s Max took to hiking and running the trails of Nail Can Hill and soon became acquainted with like-minded souls Geoff Dynan, Peter Harper, Charles Aitken, Lester Sawyer and Rob Simmons.
In 1975, this group would form the Albury-Wodonga Orienteering Club, which in turn would organise the first Nail Can Hill Run in 1977.
Max ran in the first Nail Can finishing 28th in 57 minutes, nine seconds.
He went on to run in every edition bar one (due to injury) until 2012, aged 82.
Max is listed as the last finisher that day in 2012; however he suffered a bad fall during the run.
In typical style and determined to finish, he refused any assistance and went on to cross the line somewhat bloodied and dusty but as always smiling and happy to be doing what he loved.
When the Age Busters category was introduced to the Nail Can Hill Run in 1993, Max was the first to qualify running 57.54 to easily beat his age of 63 at the time.
Max went on to Age Bust each year up to 1999 but by 2000 age and time caught up with his legs after decades of pushing the limits.
Max later pointed out that he had in fact been Age Busting long before the concept was even thought of and he has been credited with five Age Buster times between 1986 and 1991.
In 1999 Max’s contribution was recognised in the form of the Max Scherleitner Medal which is awarded to five-time Age Busters.
Max has been an inspiration; not just for his athletic ability but also for the way he lived his life.
So when you are struggling up the hills on the first Sunday of May, take comfort from knowing that the spirit of Max will be there to push you along.