REIGNING Stawell Amateur Athletic Club champion Nathaniel Warren wound up his preparation for the Adelaide Marathon with a blistering win in the five kilometre Stephen Baird Handicap in the Ironbarks last Saturday.
Conceding as much as 12 to 16 minutes start to the slower front-markers, Warren scythed his way through one of the biggest and best fields of the season to snatch victory in the shadows of the winning post.
The gritty Meggy Boan thought she had the race won, but didn't hear Warren descending until too late to resist and was also caught unawares when Bob Freeland, whom she had overtaken on the long uphill climb to the finish, out sprinted her in the last few hops.
A mere 10 seconds separated the first four to finish in the most hotly contested race this year.
The winner's time of 18.27 minutes was bettered only by Kieran Ryan whose sizzling 18.11 was still not enough to overcome the one minute start he had to give to Warren.
Ryan is off to Alaska to join endurance race guru Geoff Roes at his Ultra-Running Camp and then face the challenge of a 150 km run in mountainous terrain.
Warren, who trains up to 70 kilometres a week, including a gut busting session of 20 x 400 metre bursts, is on target to crack three hours for the marathon, which is a long-held ambition.
The Stawell policeman's second win of the season continued the unexpected dominance of male athletes in 2014.
Female runners won more than half of the 40-odd races programmed by the club over the previous two seasons, but in 12 races to date only Katie Collins, Narelle Bubb and Matilda Iglesias have tasted success with just 11 females making it to the podium against 23 males.
Luca O'Flynn said see 'ya later to his dad Sven in the last kilometre to make a one act affair of the Junior division of the race while Kayla Membrey scored a dominant win over the Casey brothers Jacob and Logan to easily win the Sub-Juniors race.
The club has a bye this weekend, but travels to Horsham on August 16 for the five kilometre Andrew Darnell Memorial Handicap at riverside.
Fun runners are welcome and details are on the club website.