Most Stawell Amateur Athletic Club race winners are thrilled with the joy of success, but Peter Barham was somewhat sheepish after winning the race he sponsors, the five kilometre Barham Insurance Handicap at Stawell last Saturday.
It’s an unwritten “rule” that club sponsors are not supposed to win their own races, hence Barham’s subdued response to well-wishers after the Ironbarks event.
“It’s a bit embarrassing, but I didn’t do the handicapping,” Barham said philosophically. “I didn’t run in the race expecting to win, but I have been working hard, running 6k five days a week around the rifle range (Stawell), so I’m pleased to be rewarded for that.”
Surging to the lead with about 1200 metres to travel, Barham put his head down and pushed hard, with no thought for the chasers, led by Patrick Ellis. Ellis finished fast, failing by just six seconds to overhaul the unsuspecting winner.
The 2000-2001 club champion, James Glisson, who is now based at Coleraine, returned after a long absence to finish third. Like Nhill runner Peter Cutler, who won the previous week, Glisson has no qualms about making the 300 kilometre round trip to Stawell, driven by the lure of competition. Glisson, who introduced his son Chris to the club on Saturday, said: “I drive 100k to work in Portland during the week so a bit further is no problem to me. You’ve just got to come to Stawell to get a decent race, otherwise it’s Ballarat.”
Chris himself performed creditably on debut, closing rapidly on Colin Barnett and Gaynor Radovic to finished sixth in a smart time. Current club champion Nathaniel Warren ran fastest time, a scintillating 18 minutes and 30 seconds but, conceding up to ten minutes start to the front-markers, could not squeeze into the top ten.
Club stalwart Gary Saunders was a rare absentee – but with good cause. He was celebrating the one-hundredth birthday of his mother, Gwen at the Stawell Town Hall.
In the two kilometre junior division of the race, Paris Panozzo surprised Liam Scott and Reine Mackley, keeping them at bay all the way to record an easy win.
By Keith Lofthouse