Horsham’s Patrick Ellis overcame a bout of self doubt brought on by a severe dose of the flu when he charged to a pugnacious win in the eight kilometres Howdens of Stawell Handicap, raced in the Ironbarks near Stawell last Saturday.
“I shouldn’t have run,” Patrick wheezed after the event. “I felt really crook jogging to the start and that’s when I should have had the good sense to pull out. But once I got going, my lungs seemed to clear,so it wasn’t so bad.”
Patrick’s endeavours might have been aided by Steve “Squeak” Baird, who, as usual, began like a pocket rocket from his 16 minute handicap, dragging Ellis, who ran from the same mark, along with him.
After finishing second in the opening two events of the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club season, Patrick was a warm favourite to win the race…but was very nearly upstaged by a 100-1 outsider. In a dramatic form reversal, Sven O’Flynn stunned onlookers when he still led the field rising to the top of the last hill, but it was then, with about 400 metres to travel, that Ellis swept past and surged clear to win by eleven seconds, with young Sarah Barham surprising more seasoned runners to finish third.
O’Flynn, described by club pundits as a “moody” runner, “bucking his brands off one day and digging his toes in the next,” sandwiched his great run between lasts at Stawell the previous week and and at Ararat the next day.
“I just didn’t want to run last again,” Sven said.
Nhill athlete Peter Cutler, already a winner this season, recorded the fastest time of 30 minutes and 20 seconds from his tough backmarkers position to just sneak into the top ten
Tobias Blair handsomely won the four kilometre junior division of the race from featherweight Pomonal runner, Raine Mackley, who continues to impress with his determination.
By Keith Lofthouse