Ash Cowen eyes off first win at Stawell

Stawell's Ash Cowen admits nerves are building as the biggest weekend of his running season draws closer.

Cowen will be the only Stawell runner at this year's Stawell Gift carnival.

Along with his nerves there is some excitement as he knows he has the full support of his close knit town.

"Everyone gets nervous for Stawell," Cowen said.

"It's such a huge occasion."

He will feature in three races this year the under 20 years 800 metres where he will run from scratch, the open 1600 metres off 170 metres and the novice mile (1600m) where he is running off a handicap of 135 metres.

Cowen has said his best chance will come on Sunday in the novice mile, despite having a better handicap in the open event.

Training for Cowen has decreased, but prior to this week, has been flat out.

"I've trained most nights," he said.

"There are still mornings I wake up a bit sore. It's hard work."

Cowen has been in strict training for the past two years under coach Mark Hipworth.

His preparation has seen him compete in the Maryborough Gift, Geelong and Burramine where he claimed a sash at each.

Burramine was the most recent carnival where he claimed his third sash winning the under 21 years 800 metre event.

"I've been in pretty good form running wise.

"I feel really good."

Cowen has dreamt of winning at Stawell for a long time and made the decision this year to make it his sole focus two years ago.

"Footy has always been a priority, but this year it's running," he said.

The 20 year old athlete is on the current playing list for the Swifts Football Club, but at this stage, he is unsure whether he will take to the field at all this year.

Cowen put his motivation down to past history between his family and the iconic event.

"If I win it will probably mean more to my Pop than it will to me," he said.

"It will mean a lot to me, but that just puts it in perspective," Cowen said.

Not only did his grandfather John run in middle distance events, but so did his uncle Wayne.

Regardless of the results this weekend, it will be a huge occasion for the youngster and he plans to come back to Stawell and compete for many years.

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