Rob Steals Race from Wrong Way Five

All the elements fell into place for Stawell geologist Rob Blythman last week when he accepted a transfer to the Northern Territory and then scored a timely win in the five kilometre Stan and Karen Watson Handicap on Saturday in what may be his last race with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club.

Blythman held on grimly to defeat the fast-finishing teenage rocket, Tom Walker, by just seven seconds, with Matilda Iglesias, returning to form, just three seconds behind in third place.

The end result may have been entirely different but for carnage, in the middle of the pack when one runner missed a crucial turn and led four others off the course.

Having already won the opening event of the season and receiving a time penalty Blythman could conceivably have expected to finish behind all five wayward runners, Terry Jenkins, Vicki Tyler, and Sharon Howden and Graeme Eldridge to whom he had to give starts.

But no-one begrudged the quietly-spoken Blythman a fruitful farewell.

The muscular thirty-one-year-old, who looks more like a sprinter than a stayer, had done the hard yards culminating in the Great Ocean Road Marathon in May and is a stronger athlete for the intense preparation the distance requires.

“I didn’t know what had happened up ahead (the wrong-way runners) and had no idea whether I was in front or not. I was more concerned about Tom breathing down my neck and I just did the best I could.

“It feels right to win a race sponsored by Stan (Watson) because I worked with him at the gold mine and he’s one of the reasons I joined the club in 2015.”

In the one kilometre Sub-Juniors division of the race, Barney Baker broke through for his first win, by a big margin, with Kaya Membrey holding on for third ahead of the dead-heaters Harley Squire and Chloe Hunter.

The club has a bye this weekend, but returns to the Ironbarks for the five kilometre “One More Step” For Ray Handicap, to commemorate Ray Rickard, a life member of the club who passed away in December of last year.

Keith Lofthouse 53562493

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