Kangaroos are a common sight in Stawell's Ironbark Forest, but one got too close for comfort for the winner of the five-kilometre Handicap last Saturday.
After surging to the lead with 700 metres to run, backmarker Chris Barwick had the race "safely" in his keeping when a young roo, startled from cover, came from the opposite direction and bounded within metres of a collision just short of the finish line.
"All I saw was a grey flash," Barwick said. "I didn't have time to react because it was moving much faster than I was, but they say it passed pretty close."
Shrugging off the near miss, Barwick crossed with nineteen seconds to spare from wiry veteran Keith Lofthouse.
Sandra Barwick, encouraged to press on when overhauled by her husband, battled on for a brave third just five seconds clear of pre-race favourite and 2015 winner Adrian van Raaphorst.
The race is one of the few races on the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club calendar to have eluded Barwick who was having his 366th start.
The unassuming Barwick, who joined the SACCC 31 years ago said, "I don't really take much notice of those things. I don't run to win, I only run to support the club and do the best I can."
Mrs Barwick and Lofthouse had finished tenth and eleventh at Rhymney only the week before and in that kind of form, Lofthouse rated himself a 100-1 chance in the race.
"But none of the three placegetters at Rhymney backed-up and that shortened the odds considerably. Still, I'd finished behind four others in the race at Rhymney so I guess a few had an off day."
The club has a two week break before returning to Rhymney for the 6.5 kilometre Andrew Reynolds Handicap on Sunday, April 28.
Fun runners are welcome.
Meanwhile, Vicki Tyler made amends for a barren season of racing in 2018 by leading an all-girl charge to a surprise win in the five-and-a-half kilometre Handicap at Concongella last Saturday.
In 12 runs with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club last season, Tyler managed just one third placing but had otherwise finished no closer than eighth in the other eleven starts.
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