The cream rose to the top on the foothills of Halls Gap when the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club’s elite fought out the finish of the five kilometre King of the Mountain last Saturday.
In a breathtakingly tight contest, rookie Rob Blythman broke through for his maiden win in the prestigious handicap event finishing the downhill run with an 11 second advantage over Horsham’s Colin Barnett with Nathaniel Warren just two seconds further behind.
“I kept an eye on Col all the way, about 20 steps behind,” Blythman said. “But I gained a bit of ground up the hill when Col took a walk, like most of the runners had to do up that really tough and challenging climb.
“I was determined not to walk myself and I reckon that’s where I won it. I’m actually surprised I had the strength because I’m in winter hibernation – not doing the same amount of training I did earlier this year when for a couple of months I was having a run every night.”
The 29-year-old mine geologist was a hockey player who switched to running after moving to Stawell from South Australia.
“I played hockey from my childhood because mum didn’t want me playing football, but the nearest hockey competition to Stawell is in Ballarat and that was going to make life too difficult.”
In running, Blythman’s primary ambition is to return to South Australia for the Barossa Half Marathon next year where he hopes to improve on his best times.
The Sub-Junior Prince of the Hill was won Tex Tracey, following in brother Zephyr’s footsteps who was a winner at Stawell the week before.
The club returns to Stawell tomorrow for the Chris Blake Handicap, a straight three kilometre dash through the Ironbarks. Fun runners are welcome and should meet at the North Park clubrooms from 9.30am.