Stawell Amateur Athletic Club runner, Owen Roper, made the tough 16km Charlie Jones Handicap look easy last Saturday, storming to victory by a clear 45 seconds in the closing stages of the race.
Held over a testing course through the Iron Bark forest north of Stawell, Roper set a solid pace from the start.
Running from near the back of the field, Roper pushed himself hard on the hills, making up substantial ground on the slower front markers.
By the half way mark, Carolyn Lehmann still led the field, but Garry Rice was not far behind and looked to have a strong chance. After the long climb to Centre Road, and with 4km to go, Rice had caught Bob Freeland, and the two shared the lead for the next 3km.
Not far back Keith Lofthouse was making his presence felt, with Roper still some distance behind. However, once on Centre Road, and with the other runners in sight, Roper seemed to find another gear, charging past first Lofthouse and then Rice and Freeland, to grab the lead with 1km to go.
Roper kept the pressure on until the line, winning from Lofthouse, with Bob Freeland third.
Backmarker Adrian Tyler ran the fastest time of 64 minutes 16 seconds.
Junior runner Emily Parnaby easily accounted for the rest of the field in the junior 4km event, with Ebony Darnell second and Elly Barnett third.
Parnaby’s time was 21 minutes 59 seconds.
Somer Darnell ran a strong race to take out the sub-junior 2km event from Tobias Blair, with Liam Burns coming home third.
Blair ran the fastest sub-junior time of 10 minutes 17 seconds.