A steadily improving Paul Atherton finally bettered his 2 previous second placings this season, when he came home strongly to take out the Lindsay Kent Memorial 8km Championship by almost a minute.
Run as a combined sealed handicap and championship race, all runners started together. First across the line takes the championship points, then handicaps are applied post-race to decide the overall race winner.
Held near the Stawell Airport in cold but clear conditions, the pace was on right from the start, when Col Barnett and Jon Dugdale took the lead of the 23 strong senior field. Charlie Jones, Mark Pumpa, Peter Steggall and Ray Scott not far behind.
By mid race, competitors were dealing with some muddy stretches, and then a long, testing ascent to the finish, which saw the in-form Barnett gradually pull away from the rest of the field to take line honours and the Championship points, in a fast time of 29min 28sec. First female home was Susie Ellis in a time of 35min 27sec, which also gave her the Womens Championship points.
The battle for handicap and thus overall race winner produced a number of good individual performances, with Meg Parnaby, Paul Atherton, Axel Meumann and Bob Freeland all in with a good chance.
However, after handicaps were applied, Paul Atherton claimed a clear win, clipping 4min 30sec off his previous best for this course. Axel Meumann was second, with Meg Parnaby only 2 tenths of a second behind in third.
The juniors ran a 2km out and back course, with Alastair Dugdale soon taking the lead, not to be headed. He crossed the line in a time of 7min 42sec to take the Junior Championship points. Emily Parnaby was first girl home in a time of 8min 33sec, and girl Junior Champion.
Alastair Dugdale also tok out the handicap section, with Hugh Scott running well for second, and Jacinta Cameron third.
The sub-juniors also ran the same 2km course as the juniors, starting at the same time, and the first 2 subbies home actually beating several junior runners home.
Line honours went to Liam Scott, in a time of 9min 18sec. Handicap winner was Elly Barnett, with the fastest girl sub-junior time of 10min 43sec. Second was Kieran Schneider and Chloe Jamieson was third.