Stawell Amateur Athletic club runner Garry Rice finally threw off his injury worries of the past few years to take out a well paced win in the McDonalds Hairdressing Handicap last Saturday.
Starting from a mark well back in the 22 strong senior field, Rice found the undulating 8km course to his liking. Working his way through the field Rice had accounted for main rivals Peter Steggall and John Kelly by the half way mark, but backmarker Col Barnett was also gaining slowly.
With 2km to go, Rice had crept into fourth place, with Ivan McDonald, Axel Meumann and Meg Parnaby still out in front. With 500m to go, McDonald still held a slender lead, but Rice overpowered him in the closing stages to take out his first win for several seasons.
Ivan McDonald hung on for a well run second, with Peter Steggall just holding off the final charge of Col Barnett to claim third.
Invitational runner Steve Page ran the fastest time of the day with 27 minutes 52sec. Susie Ellis was the quickest female in 39 minutes 13sec.
Sarah Ellis led off the field of 9 junior runners over the 4km course. Stacey Faravoni was next away, setting a blistering pace that proved insurmountable to the rest of the field.
Faravoni crossed the line first, well clear of Shaun Parnaby in second place, who had pulled away from third placed Emma Kelly over the closing stages of the race.
Nat Watson ran the fastest junior time of 18 minutes 16sec, with Emma Kelly the best girl with 18 minutes 56sec.
Ten sub-juniors tackled a 1500m course, with Liam Burns being pushed all the way by Mackenzie Ellis. Burns managed to hang on to take line honours from Ellis, with Elly Atherton producing a good first run for the season taking third.
Fastest sub-junior was Liam Scott in a time of 5 minutes 35sec. Elly Barnett was the quickest sub-junior girl in 6 minutes 12sec.