DAVE Hunter's rush to get to Melbourne for the Kangaroos clash with the Demons at Etihad last Saturday helped propel him to a fighting win in the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club's eight kilometre Stawell Toyota Handicap, his second of the season.
"It wasn't much of a game as it turned out, but the (two) girls hadn't been down to Melbourne before and were keen to go. So I wanted to get the race over and done with as quickly as possible to get away," Hunter, a keen Roos supporter, said.
The one stumbling block was the experience of veteran Keith Lofthouse who had raced to the lead with about a kilometre to travel and engaged in some blocking tactics in the Ironbarks bushland to defend his position.
"I wasn't going to make it easy for him," Lofthouse said.
"Dave tried to pass on my left so I was in my rights to crowd him towards the bushes and make him switch around to the other side.
"I knew it was futile because Dave's younger and faster, but it was all a bit of gamesmanship which I think we both enjoyed.
"I checked with Keith Haymes, the running guru after the race and he assured me that I did the right thing."
Hunter eventually surged to a narrow win, but then Lofthouse had to withstand a determined bid from the relentless Meggy Boan over the final 300 metres uphill to hold onto second place.
A casualty of the race was 72-year-old Gary Saunders who suffered a nasty fall, but picked himself up and finished the race with blood seeping from abrasions down his right side. He then raced at Ararat the next day.
Hunter's target is now the Stawell Hospital Half Marathon on Sunday, October 5 and plans to back up in the Melbourne Half Marathon a week later.
"It's a challenge for me, but it might be the last time I get to do it because I miss my golf and I'm inclined to want to back off on the running next year to fit in more rounds," Hunter said.
In the junior division of the race, the flying Luca O'Flynn turned the tables on his nemesis Rhys Bubb and in the sub-juniors brave little Miles Membrey, who suffers from asthma, defied determined bids to run him down.
Race action returns to the Ironbarks tomorrow for the ten kilometre Shane and Robyn Young Sportspower Handicap.
Fun runners are welcome and should meet at the North Park clubrooms at 1.30pm.