Col Barnett followed up his Championship win last week with another great run to take out the Howdens Of Stawell Handicap race last Saturday in fine but overcast conditions.
A field of 22 senior runners lined up for the demanding 6.5km figure eight course through the hilly ironbark forest. Gary Saunders was first runner away, and set a steady pace.
Saunders is showing steady improvement and with his handicap looked a good chance, having established a handy lead as the backmarkers set off.
As in any handicap race it is the last couple of kilometers where the race starts to get interesting, with the middle and backmarkers beginning to make their presence known.
With 1km to go Bob Freeland and Fiona O’Brien appeared the most likely threats but it was backmarker Col Barnett, giving the frontmarkers a full 12 minute advantage, who grabbed the lead with only 200m to go. Mark Pumpa followed through to take second place with pocket dynamite Susie Ellis third. Saunders finished fourth.
Barnett clocked the fastest time of 25mins 11sec, a great time for such a hard course. Jacinta Collier was the fastest female with 29mins 1sec.
Twelve juniors ran a 3km course with Harry Steggall being the first runner away. He set a good pace and threw down the challenge to the rest of the field. Thomas Blair and Naomi Jamieson were running well but with 800m to go Emily Parnaby took the lead, and managed to hold off a steadily closing Thomas Blair to win. Harry Steggall finished third.
Karl Scott produced the fastest time of 11mins 57sec. Naomi Jamieson was the fastest girl in a time of 13mins 1sec.
It was great to see a good field of 8 sub-juniors aged between 5 and 12 turn out for the 1km out and back course. Down the long home straight Richard Dugdale took the lead to finish first from a fast finishing Tobias Blair, with Elly Barnett third.
Fastest time was Heidi Sudholz with 4mins 23sec. Fastest boy was Richard Dugdale in a time of 4mins 31sec.
With 8 races completed so far this season, Fiona O’Brien leads the Senior Aggregate with 53 points followed by Gary Howden on 45 points. Gary Howden can hardly contain his excitement in leading the teams.
In the Junior Aggregate Karl Scott is leading by 3 points, with a group of 3 in equal second place.