Rookie Kate Field broke through at only her third official run with the Stawell Club, edging out fellow novice Michelle Dunn who was unlucky not to win the week before after mistaking the course.
Seventy-seven-year-old greybeard Gary Saunders was a gallant third.
“This is a real surprise to me,” an excited Field said. “I never thought this would happen so early. I’ve always liked long-distance running and fun runs, but I wanted something more, and the club has been so welcoming.
The Stawell-based myotherapist said she is “loving the challenge of competition” and after recently running a random thirteen kilometres in the Stawell Ironbarks with clubmates now has a half-marathon in her sights.
We were joined by the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club for the race within a race with both clubs presenting sashes to their winners.
And it was Saunders to the fore, revelling in the hill climb for the last two kilometres of the race to defeat 651-start veteran Jack Trounson by 0.50 minutes.
In the Amateur’s one kilometre Sub-Juniors race Sienna Santuccione held on grimly for a narrow win over consistent trier Olivia Hunter with Nate Lyons a close third.
Both clubs revert to five kilometres for their respective races this weekend. The Amateurs celebrate the Stan and Karen Watson Handicap at Stawell.