It seemed fitting that Colin Barnett, one of the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club’s most decorated runners, should win the race that marked the club’s 50th Anniversary at Stawell last Saturday; the race that carried the name of club founder, Keith Haymes.
Barnett, 53, a club champion, veteran champion and aggregate winner on multiple occasions, has more history with the club than most and was rapt to win a race of such significance.
He first joined in 1984 and has won just about every event on the club calendar but had never won the longest.
“My best distance is probably three kilometres, but really, the shorter the better for me,” he said.
“I’ve avoided the 16k in the past. I did have a crack last year, but the furthest I’ve run since then is 10 kilometres.”
The tall, long-striding Horsham-based Barnett knew better than to chase reigning club champion, Nathaniel Warren, knowing that the local speedster had to give him a sizeable start under the handicap conditions.
“Nathaniel was already 100 metres ahead after just one kilometre, so I just put my head down and took on the challenge. I ran the race strongly, felt good at the end and ran two minutes faster than I did last year.”
That was enough to repel the threat of Horsham’s endurance specialist, Susie Ellis, who ran her usual honest race to finish second ahead of the club’s most improved runner, Justine Tracey.
Barnett is now looking ahead, but hasn’t yet committed, to the World’s Masters Games and the 400, 800 and 1500 metres at Perth in October.
“At my age you always have to wait and see how the body holds up,” he said. “My training is not as intensive as it was a few years ago and, like a 300 game footballer, I find my body responds better to that.”
In a keenly contested Sub-Junior race Tex Tracey won bragging rights over brother Zephyr with a determined win. Promising youngster Miles Membrey continued his improved form to finish third.
The club has a bye this Saturday but Stawell again hosts the five kilometre Horsham Physiotherapy and Podiatry Handicap on Saturday, August 20. Fun runners are welcome.