Col Barnett, a veteran campaigner and one of the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club’s most decorated runners, benefited from the “blind” handicaps of the Advance Bricks and Pavers race at Stawell last Saturday to snatch victory from rising teenage star, Tom Walker.
A blind or “sealed” handicap is one where the entire field of runners start en masse, not knowing how much time they have to give or receive from their opponents.
Walker, a brilliant winner at the Stawell Gift meet over Easter, ran a blistering 22.23 minutes for the six and a half kilometres, but had to give 4.30 minutes start to Barnett, a multiple winner of club championships and aggregates.
When handicaps were applied, Barnett had a mere 0.3 seconds to spare from the young speedster who was not in the sights of Barnett or third placegetter Mark Urquhart for most of the race.
“I’m pretty sure he’d have won if he had me to chase down because usually in those situations the competitive juices kick in,” the fifty-four-year-old Barnett said. “But Tom will have his day, and I’m sure it will be sooner rather than later.”
Niggling injuries have prevented Barnett from starting in as many races as he would have liked in recent years and he has to be conscious of keeping a balance between training to keep fit, and over-training to risk injury.
“I wasn’t able to do much over summer and I’ve cut down from 30 to 20 kilometres a week in the last couple of years. Last year, I got a calf injury after going into a race a little sore, and learned a valuable lesson about listening when the body talks.”
In the sub-junior version of the race, Jack Urquhart ran a tenacious one kilometre to overcome Odin Klemm-Kent, with Ryan Greenhalgh bustling into third place.
The club has a bye on Mothers Day weekend but returns to the Stawell Ironbarks for the five kilometre Axis Employment Handicap on May 20. Fun runners are welcome.
(Keith Lofthouse 53562496)