Leaving her early season injury worries behind, Stawell Amateur Athletic Club runner Meg Parnaby stamped her authority over the field early and was not challenged when she took out the Tylers Hardware 8km Handicap and Grand Prix event, held last Saturday along the banks of Horsham’s Wimmera River.
In contrast to the cold wet conditions of the week before, the day was fine and mild, with a good turnout of 32 senior runners lining up for the start.
The front markers set off at a good pace. Parnaby, running off a handicap of nearly 6 minutes, revelled in the flat conditions, and by the half way point had reeled in the front markers to establish a commanding lead, but the rest of the field was steadily closing the gap.
Mid field runners Paul Atherton and Bob Freeland were both running well and looked the greatest danger while Gary Howden and Charlie Jones led the backmarkers charge from the rear of the pack.
With 1km to go, Parnaby still had a handy 2 minute lead, but saw this cut to less than half as she crossed the line for her first win of the season.
The steadily improving Paul Atherton put in another great run to take second, while Freeland was overtaken in the closing stages by the fast finishing Gary Howden, who claimed third place.
Ashley Roberts ran extremely well to record the fastest time of 29min 46sec. Quickest female was invitational runner Jacinta Collier, in 33min 20sec.
Seven junior runners covered a 3km course, with Shaun Parnaby emulating mother Meg. The flat, shorter course to his liking, he went out hard, setting the backmarkers an insurmountable task to haul him in.
He crossed the line 1 minute ahead of the rest of the field. Naomi Jamieson returned to form to take second place, holding off a late charge from Thomas Blair, who came in third.
Nat Watson posted the fastest junior time of 12min 17sec, with Jamieson running the fastest junior female time of 13min 18sec.
Seven sub-juniors headed off over a 1500m course, with 6 year old Liam Burns again defying the handicapper to score his third win for the season.
Kieran Schneider was a close second, with Chloe Jamieson not far behind in third place.
Liam Scott ran the fastest sub-junior time of 5min 41sec, and Elly Barnett was the fastest sub-junior girl in 6min 32sec.