STAWELL - Dale Hurley, the tenacious running player whose celebrated 250-match career with the Great Western Lions and Stawell Warriors ended with his retirement two years ago, transformed himself into an endurance athlete and has won his second Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club championship.
With seven fastest times, Hurley topped his win in his debut season last year by scoring maximum points in the club's trifecta of championship races to easily account for the veteran Anthony Mellors and the up-and-coming teenager, Nathan Makovec.
With 13 top 10 finishes and wins in the Australia Post and Trounson Family Handicaps, Nathan's dad, Brad, in his fifth season, won the coveted aggregate by a solitary point from Ian McCready with seven-times winner Peter Gibson just two points away in third place.
Consolations for Mellors (233 career runs) and Gibson (390) were wins in the over 40s and over 50s title respectively.
At the club's presentation night, Rhonda Clark was crowned ladies champion.Nathan Makovec scored the narrowest win with just 0.02 seconds to spare from the club's 579-run record holder, Jack Trounson while the mercurial youngster, Ashley Jeans was responsible for the biggest winning margin, a 1.44 minute gap over Mick Davis in the five kilometre David O Jones Ararat Mitre 10 Handicap.
Club president Neil Wilde notched up his 400th run and announced his retirement after 23 years of competition.