Hunter fires up for surprise win

Stawell Amateur Athletic Club secretary Naomi Hunter was running on adrenalin when she scooted to a surprisingly easy win in the five kilometre Ivan McDonald Handicap at Stawell’s Big Hill last Saturday.

Hunter found herself burdened by extra duties due to the absence of club President, Jess Cass, who was holidaying in New South Wales, and Vice President Simon Edge who became a father for the first time last Tuesday.

It had been a stressful morning, with husband David Hunter on a late call-up to mark the course, but by the time the race got underway in blustery conditions, all that stress was converted to nervous energy and Hunter never gave the chasers a chance.

“I’d already decided to go out as hard as I could on the downhill to set up the gap I probably needed for the uphill,” the winner, who aims to run a half-marathon in Melbourne next month, said.

“I haven’t trained as hard as I did last week so I had freshened up a bit. That helped and I also had two fun runners for company, urging me on the last hill climb, which is always the toughest part of the course.”

Hunter’s emphatic one minute win over pre-race favourite Terry Jenkins, and the ever-improving Katie Field again denied Jenkins the chance to break this season’s drought.

Very much the “bridesmaid,” Jenkins has not finished further back than fifth in his past dozen starts, which includes three seconds, five thirds and two fourths.

“I think I might run in a skirt next week!” quipped the grey-bearded veteran who said he never sighted the winner throughout the race.

In the one kilometre Sub Juniors race at the bottom of the hill, Eva Hurley deserved her maiden win after a ding dong battle with brothers Joshua and Dale Robinson.

The club’s season finale on Saturday is the three kilometre Chris Blake Handicap which starts at 3pm on the North Park athletic track. Fun runners are welcome.

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