REGION - The accolades keep coming for retired footballer Dale Hurley, who was announced as club champion in his debut season with the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club at the presentation night dinner held at the Blue Duck Hotel in Ararat last Friday.
The 33-year-old Hurley, who played 250 games with Great Western Lions and Stawell Warriors and was a multiple best and fairest award winner, must be use to award nights by now especially at finals time, but was humbled by his instant success in his new sport at his new club.
"I never expected any of this when I joined up this season, but I'm deeply honoured and deeply appreciative of the way the club has accepted me," he said.
Now in full training for the iconic Melbourne Marathon in a few weeks time, Hurley served notice that he would be a threat to more established runners when he scored a spectacular win at his first ever competitive race start at Garry Rice's Concongella Vineyard in May.
He and the younger but more experienced Simon Gallagher then duelled doggedly in the three race championship series before Hurley, with marathon training in his legs, outstayed Gallagher to end the season with a tough win in the Presidents Handicap, over five kilometres, at Moyston.
Another runner who enjoyed her first season was Emma Coburn, who scored maximum points to easily win the title of ladies champion from Rhonda Clark.
Coburn, also in solid training for the marathon, admitted that she prefers road running to cross country, but she has clearly benefited from the challenges of the tougher terrain.
The unstoppable Peter Gibson again ran in all 18 races and scored enough points, without winning a race, to secure his seventh aggregate title by the narrowest margin - a solitary point from Keith Lofthouse who had his best season in five years with the club.
The remarkably consistent Gibson, who finished in the top ten in all 18 races and never further back than eighth, said there was no secret to his success in winning aggregates.