Stawell Amateur Athletics Club runner and triathlete Gary Howden stormed home to score a clear win in last Saturdays 5km Dooen Engineering Handicap, held in the Iron Bark forest north of Stawell.
Mild temperatures and mainly overcast skies provided ideal running conditions for the 29 senior runners who lined up for the second race of the season.
Front markers Keith Haymes, Carolyn Lehnmann and Gary Saunders set off at a good pace, with Rhonda Clarke doing well not far behind.
Emma Kelly, Keith Lofthouse and Nat Watson were running strongly amongst the mid field runners. However there was no holding Howden back.
Setting off with fellow marker Ray Scott from near the rear of the field, Howden set a blistering pace from the start, with other back markers Daniel Faravoni, Adrian Tyler and Col Barnett hot on their heals. With 1000m to go Rhonda Clarke had taken the lead, but Howden began to pull away from the other back markers and hit the front with 400m to go.
Howden went on to win in a great time of 19 minutes 38 sec followed closely by Ray Scott and Emma Kelly who ran second and third. Col Barnett ran the 5km course in 19.00 minutes to post the fastest time of the day. Fastest female was Susie Ellis in 22 minutes 26 sec. Daniel Faravoni ran the third fastest time of the day, having stepped up to the senior level this year from the junior ranks. Daniel is developing into a very strong runner and threatening the best in the field.
Ebony Darnell led the junior field away over their 2km course, closely followed by Claire Smith and Elly Barnett. Back markers Liam Scott and Emily Parnaby brought up the rear, but Scott proved too strong over the closing stages of the race and went on to win over Bianca Robertson and Ebony Darnell.
Scott recorded the fastest junior time of 8 minutes 33sec, and Parnaby was the fastest girl in 8 minutes 58 sec.
India Burns stormed home to a 20 second win over the rest of the field in the 1000m junior handicap. Aleesha Robertson was second and Liam Burns was third.
Aleesha Robertson recorded the fastest sub-junior time of 4 minutes 34 sec.