A smaller field of 18 senior Stawell Amateur Athletic Club runners lined up for the Garry Rice Handicap, held near the Dadwells Bridge caravan park in unseasonally warm conditions.
Numbers were down due to a number of regular runners being absent at the Adelaide Marathon, to be held on the following day.
The 5km course was two laps of a flat bushland circuit. Hanne Blair was first runner away, followed by Gary Saunders and Axel Meumann, setting the rest of the field the task of running them down.
Hanne led for most of the race, and with 500m to go still had the lead, but the field was closing fast. Kelvin Mills was hot on her heels, with Stan Watson and Mark Pumpa not far behind.
The finish turned into one of the closest seen this season, with only one and a half minutes separating all the runners in the field.
Hanne was overtaken (swamped!!) first by Kelvin Mills, who went on the win, just holding out the fast finishing Mark Pumpa, with Stan Watson having to settle for third. The next 6 runners were separated by only 15 seconds.
Fastest race time went to Col Barnett, with 18min 50sec. Fastest female was Meg Parnaby in 25min 44sec.
A small field of 6 juniors set out over the same 5km course as the seniors, with Nat Watson proving too good for the rest of the field, going on to score an easy win.
Ilana Jorgensen, still recovering from injury problems, ran well to come in second, and backmarker Alastair Dugdale came through the field to grab third, as well as fastest junior time of 20min 33sec.
Fastest junior girl was Emily Parnaby in 24min 7sec.
The sub-juniors ran a 1500m out and back course, with Elly Atherton running well to hold off the rest of the field to score a win, from Tobias Blair second and Elly Barnett third.
Liam Scott ran the fastest sub-junior time of 5min 11sec, and Elly Barnett was the fastest sub-junior girl in a time of 5min 53sec.