Unseasonally warm conditions greeted the 22 senior runners who lined up for the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club McDonald Hairdressing Handicap, held in the Iron Bark Reserve north of Stawell.
The 8km course was the longest so far this season and was a challenge to some, with course marker Charlie Jones finding plenty of variety to keep runners on their toes, including a full on cross country section that fully tested some runners.
Allison Dugdale, returning after a maternity break, led the field off at a solid pace and ran a very positive race. By the midway point, the race was still wide open, but the combination of difficult terrain and heat slowed the back makers charge, and it wasn’t until the final 500m that a determined Patrick Ellis managed to reel in Allison to take the lead, hanging on to win from a fast finishing Peter Steggall.
Allison just clung to third placing from back marker Col Barnett, who ran the fastest time of 29min 54sec. Susie Ellis was the fastest female in a time of 34min 38sec.
Peter Steggall is running well with several minor placings so far this season, and is strongly tipped to hit the winners circle in the next few weeks.
Ten juniors set off over a similarly difficult 4000m course, with some very good personal performances for the day.
The rapidly improving Emily Parnaby was first across the line in convincing fashion, showing what a difference some consistent training can make, followed by Marcus Scott in second place and also claiming the fastest junior time of 17min 10sec.
Also showing great consistency in her running is Ilana Jorgenson, who put in a great run to come in third, and also clocked the fastest junior female time of 19min 17sec.
The sub-juniors competed over an out and back 1500m course, and once again saw some good personal performances with the uphill finish.
Tobias Blair crossed the line first, hotly pursued by Elly Barnett, who could not catch him up the hill. Richard Dugdale came in third and also produced the fastest sub-junior time of 6min 9sec. Stacey Faravoni ran the fastest sub-junior girls time of 6min 38sec.
With six runs now to date this season, the handicapper is getting the measure of all runners and the fields are consistently competitive. This is the great advantage of the handicapping system, in that everyone has a chance, and the runners that can improve on their times are rewarded, regardless of their speed and ability to run distances. So come along and have a go!!!