Cross Country running sometimes reminds us of the famous quote "Life is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get."
Sunday's Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club's (SACCC) running of the Fenn 8km Handicap, held at Bridal Hill, McDonald Park, presented competitors with a 'Cadbury's Celebrations' style box of chocolates, in regards to the course that had completely soaked up the recent wet weather.
With hills, rain and conditions under foot that made runners slip and slid like they had stepped onto an ice-skating rink, it was John Peacock who proved he was the best on the day to take the line victory.
Runners were warned early by the track markers that the course would test even the best Cross Country runners, and these warnings didn't fail to deliver. A particular section of the course is now developing a notorious reputation where it is hard to keep your footing and this year, it claimed yet another casualty.
However, not only was John Peacock race fit from his recent achievements in completing the brutal 21km course at the 'Run the Gap' running festival but he clearly was also well prepared for the difficulties that lay ahead.
Just 18 months ago, John decided to start coming along to the fantastic community event of Parkrun (held in Ararat's, Alexandra Gardens every Saturday of the year, at 8am).
Although, he admits his start to improving his fitness was just walking and "pure walking..." was all he wanted to attempt.
So, it was to the SACCC president Mark Thompson's surprise that on the first time he passed John running at Parkrun (while John was walking) that John decided to try to run with Mark for about 200m.
Since then, John enjoyed the experience of the new personal best's that Parkrun celebrates each week, in the running of their events and the encouragement that not only those shared with him but the support he also could give to others.
John selflessly acknowledged after his win on Sunday.
"Everybody you talk to, you can encourage," he said
"I started off the right way. I walked, then I walked and I ran, then I started running.
It's been such a gradual build up, that you know, I've been able to have success.
"I could do them week on week for a while (personal best's), because I was improving and then, I've just taken another step. I mean you sort of plateau at that point but then your increments of improvement are smaller but they're a lot more enjoyable too."
He then started to attend Sue Blizzards community running group at Alexandra Gardens in early weekday morning starts. Sue and John set the target of completing a Half Marathon, in which John became keen in completing the local Halls Gap 'Run the Gap' event.
In May, he completed this event but it was not without some adversity. The day was a tough day in 'the weather department', which made it slippery to say the least.
Unfortunately, John took a fall throughout the run and took quite a bit of skin off in the process. Despite this, not only did John complete the race but he did it with his training partners who ran with him in the final stages of the run.
SACCC president Mark Thompson said you couldn't find a nicer bloke.
"The positivity he brings to Parkrun, the Blizzard running group and the SACCC is incredible," he said.
The fastest women for the day were led in by Annie Brown (44' 18"), then came Jess Hunt as second fastest (52' 13"). A notable mention came from the third fastest for the day and first time competitor, Acacia Merrick who ran 8km for the first time in 53' 04".
In the men's category, Mark Thompson took out the fastest time (35' 17") from Paul Fenn (35' 46"), with Matt Haddow taking out 3rd fastest in 40' 53".
Next week will be the S and T Gallagher 8km Handicap, at the One Tree Hill Car Park, Ararat at 9am sharp. Race briefing and registrations will take place up to and at 8.45am.
Please see the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country club website for more details about entry and start times.