Thirty-six year-old running rookie Nathan Baker established himself as a sporting all-rounder when, at only his third start with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club, he broke his maiden status by winning the six and a half kilometre Advance Bricks and Pavers Handicap at Stawell.
Already a 20-year basketballer and vice president of the Stawell Tennis Club, Baker caught the running bug by participating in a variety of fun runs and finishing in the top 10 in popular local events such as Stawell Heart Challenge, Run the Gap and Dunkeld's Mosaic to Mountain.
He also completed a Melbourne Marathon in 2009 and has raced and beaten Puffing Billy three times.
His wife Angela, who ran with the club in her youth, encouraged Nathan to join as a means to improving his fitness and stamina for future events.
Baker thanked former club champion Col Barnett for helping him master the twisting and turning course through the Ironbarks.
"I latched onto Col's back and it made it such an enjoyable race, having someone to chase," he said.
Baker conceded as much as 11 minutes to slower runners under the handicap conditions, but always seemed in command and at the finish had 26 seconds to spare from last start Horsham winner, Dave Hunter.
Hunter's improvement this year has been spectacular.
Approximately 50 seconds further behind was the relentless Meggy Boan who achieved her first podium finish of the season.
In the Sub-Junior race over 1.5km, Jonte Bubb finished with a withering run over the last 100 metres to overpower sister Natalya and score by just six seconds with Kayla Membrey a promising third.
The club meets at Great Western racecourse at 1.30pm tomorrow for the eight kilometre Seppelts Cross Country Classic.
A $5 entry fee allows fun runners to join in.