Stawell Amateur Athletic Club held one of its feature races for the season on Saturday.
The Stephen Baird Handicap is the only race where first place receives a sash. A field of 23 runners eagerly lined up for the 5km senior event held near the Bonnie Dundee Dam in the ironbarks just north of Stawell.
From the start the ever improving front marker Gary Saunders set a steady pace, followed by Meg Parnaby and Alexa Duke. However, it wasn’t long before middle markers Ivan McDonald and pre race favourite Fiona O’Brien, along with last weeks winner Bob Freeland were also making their presence felt.
As the course started to get hilly, back markers Gary Howden, Mark Pumpa and Jon Dugdale also looked as if they could feature amongst the placing’s as well. The last kilometer of the race was one constant uphill climb, just the thing to sort out those runners who have put in the long training runs that would enable them to finish strongly.
It was Fiona O’Brien who over powered the remaining field, reeling in Meg Parnaby in the last 200m to grab the lead and score a popular win, and take home the sash. Mark Pumpa took out third place.
Col Barnett ran the fastest time of 19 minutes 9 seconds. Fastest female was Jacinta Collier in a time of 21 minutes 21 seconds.
The junior race was also run over the same 5km course. A field of 9 juniors lined up with Marcus Scott determined to make this race his from the start. He easily accounted for the rest of the field, winning by a clear margin of 1 minute 31 seconds, in a time of 21 minutes 10 seconds.
Emily Parnaby was second with Naomi Jamieson in third place. Jamieson was the fastest girl in a time of 23 minutes 36 seconds.
Seven sub-juniors lined up for a 1km race which saw Richard Dugdale run strongly up the hill to the finish to win his second race for the season from Liam Scott, with Fraser Steggall third. Liam ran the fastest time of 4 minutes 14 seconds, with invitational runner Stacey Faravoni being the fastest girl in a time of 4 minutes 56 seconds.