Charlotte Charges to Memorable Win

Stawell Secondary College principal Peter Hilbig had only one piece of advice for his daughter Charlotte when the two runners lined up for the five kilometre Andrew Darnell Memorial Handicap at Horsham last Saturday. “All I told her was to keep going as hard as she could and don’t look back,” Peter said.

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte followed her dad’s simple instructions to the letter and, eyes fixed firmly on the finish line, charged to a decisive win. Delighted with her first senior win with the club, Charlotte thought that a hard hit-out over three kilometres in the regional cross-country championships at Dimboola during the week had toughened her up for the riverbank run. “I came into the race thinking I had a bit of a chance and the out-and-back course suited me because I could see how the faster runners were going.”

With a favourable handicap, Charlotte never looked like losing and admitted to having a bit in reserve at the finish, as the 27 second winning margin would indicate.

Continuing her consistent form, Gaynor Radovic was the nearest chaser, while Club President Gary Howden held on grimly for third with only seconds separating him from the fast finishing backmarkers Col Barnett and Nathaniel Warren. Peter Hilbig finished ninth overall but had excuses. He was so focused on Charlotte’s efforts that he had forgotten about his own race.

Despite the ease of Charlotte’s win, there was a spectacular finale, as Nathaniel and David McAllister, two of the club’s elite runners, fought for position. David seemed to “camp” on Nathaniel’s heels for much of the race, but launched an attack within sight of the boat shed and zoomed past his rival. Unfortunately for David, he had misjudged the finish by about 500 metres, which ended beyond the boatshed and back again, enabling Nathaniel to rally again and beat the deflated challenger.

Fastest time for the race was the 18 mins 56 seconds recorded by Nhill flyer Peter Cutler off his tough mark.

Numbers for the race were boosted by an influx of enthusiastic Horsham runners who ran on invitation and relished the challenge on home turf.

By Keith Lofthouse

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