After struggling for form earlier this season, a determined Sharon Howden backed up her second placing from the previous week with a gutsy win last Saturday, taking out the Howdens of Stawell 8km Handicap.
Perfect running conditions greeted the large field of 32 senior Stawell Amateur Athletic Club runners who set off on the first of two laps around a gently undulating bushland course, set in the Iron Barks north of Stawell.
Allison Dugdale set a fast pace early on, and soon reeled in the front markers to take the lead, but the rest of the field was closing fast. Heading into the second lap, Allison still led, but Sharon Howden was hot on her heels, and last weeks winner Richard Gannon was not far behind. Peter Steggall was also making his presence felt mid field.
With 1km to go, Howden had established a handy lead, but Gannon was making up time, and Ivan McDonald was not far behind in third. Further back Peter Steggall was struggling to hold off a challenge from Jon Dugdale.
In the closing stages of the race, Howden took full advantage of the downhill finish, managing to hold off Gannon, to claim the winners sash.
A late charge by Jon Dugdale saw him grab third place and almost catch Gannon, with Peter Steggall coming in fourth, ahead of McDonald.
Col Barnett posted the fastest race time of 31min 2sec, and Susie Ellis was the fastest female in 36min 33sec.
Ten juniors set out on a single 4km lap of the same course as the seniors, with Jacinta Cameron setting the early pace. Further back Emily Parnaby and Nat Watson were running strongly, and back marker Alastair Dugdale was also closing fast.
With 1km to go, Parnaby forged to the lead and ran on strongly to score a good win and also post the fastest junior girls time of 19min 13sec. Cameron hung on for second with Watson coming in third. Both Parnaby and Cameron have been great improvers this year, the rewards of some consistant training. Keep it up girls!
Alastair Dugdale ran the fastest junior time of 17min 29sec.
Nine sub-juniors ran a 2km circuit with Liam Scott scoring an easy win from Elly Barnett, with Elly Atherton third. Scott also posted the fastest sub-junior time of 7min 58sec, and Barnett ran the fastest sub-junior girl time of 9min 55sec.