On the come back trail after a forced break earlier this year, Stawell Amateur Athletic Club runner Sharon Howden took the field by surprise when she easily won the Oscar Furniture 8km handicap last Saturday.
Running from a mid field handicap, Howden set a solid pace from the start, and had rounded up the front markers by the half way point. With 1500 metres to go, she still had a commanding lead, but the back markers were working their way through the field.
Turning onto the long home straight, she was still well clear, but husband Gary and Nathaniel Warren were gaining rapidly, with Adrian Tyler and back marker Jade Merrett not far behind them. But Sharon dug deep up the last hill, and coasted down to the line a clear winner, 40 seconds ahead of second placed Gary Howden, while Nathaniel Warren was a further six seconds back in third place.
Warren’s third placing was enough to secure the Aggregate award for the season, taking him 13 points clear with only one race to go.
Jade Merrett ran the fastest time of 30 minutes 5 seconds, with Suzie Ellis the fastest female with a time of 36 minutes 9 seconds.
Emma Kelly took out the junior 3000m event, just holding out a fast finishing Daniel Faravoni. With 500m to go, Kelly had a narrow lead over back marker Faravoni, who looked like he would reel her in.
Kelly glanced behind and saw the danger, and sprinted to the line to just win by 3 seconds from Faravoni, with Nat Watson another 4 seconds behind.
Faravoni ran the fastest junior time of 8 minutes 18 seconds. Emma Kelly was the quickest junior girl recording a time of 9 minutes 55 seconds.
In another sprint finish Georgia Barnett won the sub-junior 1000 metre event, powering up the last hill to hold out second placed Somer Darnell by 8 seconds. Elly Barnett was another 23 seconds behind in third place.
Liam Burns was the fastest sub-junior boy in a time of 5 minutes 54 seconds. Elly Barnett was the fastest sub-junior girl running a time of 5 minutes 10 seconds.