If veteran cross country runner Bob Freeland was a racehorse he'd have been at odds of 200-1 to win the five-kilometre Kieran Ryan Handicap in the Stawell Ironbarks last Saturday.
His form had gone from bad to worse - twelfth over the same course and distance, fifteenth, seventeenth and nineteenth - in the four races preceding the Ryan.
Somehow, this time he won, not by a mere tick or two but by forty-one (seconds) of them, denying brave rookie Michelle Dunn her maiden win, with the fast-finishing Bal Sukhpreet just seconds behind her.
The first question, which had to be asked after that miraculous form reversal in just one week, was: "Where did that come from Bobbie?"
The 70-year-old's answer wasn't all that convincing. "I've been swimming," he said flatly. "I haven't had a run all week but I've been swimming for a kilometre most days and that's helped reduce the weight."
It seemed that Freeland was the only runner in the event to be unsurprised by the win, though he did tell his wife on race morning that he wasn't sure if he had the energy to run the 5km.
In the one kilometre Sub-Junior event, Colten Kenny prevented a Freeland clean sweep by winning clearly from Milla Freeland with newcomer Kade Santuccione a promising third.
The Stawell Amateur Athletic Club joins the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club for the eight kilometre Lindsay Kent Memorial Handicap this Sunday. The race starts from the Pipetrack Road behind Stawell Airport at 9.45 am. Fun runners are welcome.