JACOB Densley thought about walking away from athletics in January.
Three months on, he is planning for a long-term future in the sport after a purple patch on the track.
The Terang sign writer capped off his 2016-17 season with a career-best result at the Stawell Gift on Sunday, finishing third in the 300-metre masters at Central Park.
That result followed wins in the distance at the Stonnington Gift in February and Ringwood Gift earlier this month.
“I almost pulled the pin in January – my achilles was no good,” Densley said.
“I realised rest would be the worst thing for it and ended up with two sashes.
“I definitely wouldn’t have expected that if someone had told me that in January.”
Densley, 37, ran off 35 metres at Stawell but expects to have a tougher handicap next season.
The top 10 runners from the 10 heats advanced to the 300m masters final.
“The Stawell handicaps were already out (before I won at Ringwood),” he said.
“The bloke who finished second (Steve Coulson) started off the same handicap. The two races I won, I beat him right on the line each time.
“I knew I had to go flat out at the start otherwise I’d get blocked out.”
Densley started his athletics career in 1999 but was forced to step aside after two seasons due to persistent injuries, namely a back complaint.
The former footballer decided to return to the VAL circuit after a 13-year break.
“I never pulled the pin. I always intended to come back,” Densley said.
“It’s my fourth season back. The first three were interrupted by injuries as well."
Densley said he wanted to run for as long as he could.
He looks to south-west sporting identity Richard Wearmouth, who is still competing at 64 and only just missed the 300m masters final, for inspiration.
“Richard was best-on-ground in a Hampden league grand final when he was 43,” Densley said.
“As a kid, we’d always look up to him. We’d be playing golf and he’d be doing 400-metre runs on the par five at Terang. He is always doing something. It keeps him pretty young.”
Richard Wade finished second and Nick O’Connor fifth in the 1600m restricted race at Stawell.
His father Anthony, Paul Brooks, Paul Frusher, Hannah Duynhoven, Grace Carter and Carl McMeel made up the south-west contingent at the time-honoured Easter meeting.