Col Barnett, one of the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club’s most decorated runners, finally overcame a frustrating run of injuries to break a four year drought in the five kilometre Stephen Baird Handicap last Saturday.
Barnett, 52, a club champion, veteran champion and aggregate winner on multiple occasions, had not won a race since the eight kilometre Lindsay Kent Memorial Handicap in May 2011 when he was training up to 60 kilometres a week.
A succession of calf strains and tears has curtailed much of the long distance training he once did by more than half but he has always been blessed with natural ability and has lost little of that judging by the creditable 21.36 minutes he recorded on the undulating course which was slippery in parts after rain.
Starting from his customary back mark and conceding as much as 10 minutes start to the slower runners, Barnett still had plenty of work to do to catch the leaders in the long uphill run to the finish but as they tired Barnett only got stronger.
The Horsham-based runner caught the in-form Bob Freeland very near the crest of the hill to race away to win narrowly but convincingly by seven seconds with Rachel Coverdale another 30 seconds away in third place.
“It feels good to win again and great to win here on this course which is one of my favourites,” the winner said.
“I have no ambitions to run marathons or endurance events these days. I’m just happy to be able run as fast as I can and with no fatigue in the legs I think a bit of freshness helped me today.”
In the Sub Junior event over one kilometre it was victory to the smallest, Miles Membrey finishing with great determination to defeat brave chasers Zephyr Tracey and Olivia Hunter.
The club returns to the Ironbarks tomorrow for the five kilometre Stan and Karen Watson Handicap.
Fun runners are welcome and should meet at the North Park Clubrooms from 9.30am.