Paul Fenn, three times champion and long the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club's supreme athlete, made an elementary error in the five-kilometre handicap last Sunday that could easily have cost him his first win since 2016.
With a kilometre to run, Fenn thought he had the race in his keeping when he swept past a battling Julie Hertz, who ultimately finished in third place.
Fenn could be forgiven for cruising for the remainder of the race, but at the 400 metre mark, he spotted another yellow-shirted runner up ahead and wondered "who the hell is that?"
At the post-race presentation, Fenn admitted that he had "forgotten" that endurance specialist Sue Blizzard was in the race.
"Had she been further in front, she would have been standing here in my place," he said.
In effect, only the classiest runner in the club had a hope of running Blizzard down once she came into view
But that's just how quickly the flying Fenn can close a gap.
In a twinkling, the one-time Olympic hopeful raced past the leader and reached the timekeepers with 0.18 minutes to spare with plenty of daylight between them and Hertz.
Fenn, who had last won the Club Championship in 2016, had a forced absence from competition with a high-grade plantar fasciitis (foot) injury.
"I virtually had to go back to basics and retrain myself to run again," Fenn said.