Saunders Holds Off Challengers

Stawell Sportspower Handicap & Grand Prix

Long time club member and veteran runner Gary Saunders proved that being the eldest runner in the field was no barrier when he held off all challengers to take out the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club Sportspower Handicap last Saturday, held over a fast 5000m course in the Three Jacks bushland reserve, near Stawell.

Starting as one of the front markers in a field of 28 senior runners, Saunders paced himself for much of the race off guest runner John Duke, setting the remainder of the field the difficult task of hauling them in.

With half a kilometre to go, Saunders still retained a clear lead from Alexa Duke and Sharon Howden, but the rest of the field was closing fast and beginning to converge into a long straggly pack, producing one of the closest and most competitive finishes this season.

Back marker Col Barnett was streaking through the field, but Saunders managed to hang on to score the Handicap win, and take out the third Grand Prix race points as well. Alexa Duke just managed to hold off Sharon Howden for second, with Barnett placing fourth and running the fastest race time of 17min 46sec.

The next 60 seconds saw 17 senior runners cross the line, a great result for our handicapper, John Collins. However, it threw our officials into chaos as so many finished in groups of 2 or 3 or more, creating difficulties recording them all.

Susie Ellis ran the quickest female time of 20min 47sec, and incidently she finished in 15th position, even though she was only 42sec behind Alexa Duke in second place.

Ten juniors tackled the same 5000m course and once again mixed it well with the senior runners, setting out at the same time. Shaun Parnaby established the early pace, but with 1km to go was overtaken by the fast finishing Naomi Jamieson, who went on to claim victory.

Nat Watson sprinted to the line to wrench second place from Parnaby by half a second. Fastest junior was Watson in 21min 30sec, one of his best ever times. Ilana Jorgensen was the fastest girl in 23min.

Nine sub-juniors ran a 1km out and back course, with Georgia Barnett producing a strong run to take line honours from last weeks winner Liam Burns.

Back marker Liam Scott worked his way through the pack for third, and also ran the fastest sub-junior time of 3min 47sec. Stacey Faravoni was the fastest sub-junior girl in 4min 4sec.

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