After half-a-lifetime of competition with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club, Col Barnett finally broke through for a win in the club’s showcase event, the eight kilometre Lindsay Kent Memorial Handicap, held near the Stawell Airport last Sunday.
Ploughing through the mud and slush, with the race run in driving wind and rain, Col, 48, finally saluted at his eleventh attempt, having finished second in 2004 and third in 2006 in much more clement conditions.
“It was tough going out there and pretty treacherous running up the last hill, which was very slippery,” the soaked and mud-spattered winner said. “I had to take baby steps to stop myself from slipping over – you couldn’t run fast through it, but I was reasonably comfortable, given that I had to run a little conservatively.”
One of the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club’s most decorated athletes, a former aggregate winner and several times club champion, Col said that in his 27 year connection with the club he had rarely raced in such brutal conditions.
Next in the handicap were Patrick Ellis and Charlie Jones, straggling in like Brown’s cows, and 2006 winner Bob Freeland tailing them in more than 17 minutes behind the triumphant Col.
Dave McAllister backed up after the Great Ocean Road Marathon and recorded best time, taking out the Championship points from Col Barnett. Susie Ellis took out the women’s Championship points from Rhonda Clark.
Tobias Blair was rewarded for his consistency this season with a deserved win in the Junior Division of the race.
By Keith Lofthouse