Two paths diverged in a winery, and Andre Waring took the one less travelled by.
And it might have made all the difference.
The in form Box Hill Athletics Club athlete took out the Athletics Victoria XCR 8km race at St Anne’s Winery, just south of Bendigo, just ahead of Glenhuntly’s Edward Marks, who has enjoyed a breakout season.
Marks had run boldly at the front and led in the closing stages of the race, entering a narrow vineyard section where athletes could only run in single file, down one of two lanes between the vines. Marks chose the right hand lane closest to the inside of the anti-clockwise direction of the course, as runners had done on the first of two laps. Whereas Waring took the left, avoiding a lapped runner in Marks’s lane and quietly overtaking and then swinging around the turn into the lead for a three second victory in a time of 24:17.
Australian marathon record holder Brett Robinson was third in 24:40 in what might turn out to be the strongest cross country field assembled anywhere in the nation this winter, with Commonwealth Games representative Andrew Buchanan (24:41), and Olympian David McNeill (24:45) close behind, followed by national steeplechase bronze medallist Liam Cashin (24:49) and 2022 world junior representative Archie Noakes (24:53).
Waring recently set personal bests over 5000m (13:31.33) and 10000m (28:31.10) in a racing tour of the US, while Marks has been prominent in the XCR series so far this season, recording the fastest split at the Jells Park relays and finishing second at the Lakeside 10 in 29:08.
In the women’s race Ellie Pashley was the runaway winner, covering the course in 28:11 to win by almost a minute. The 34-year-old continues to go from strength-to-strength after returning to racing from maternity leave last year, having finished 19th at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst in February and running 2:29:37 for 13th place last month in the London Marathon.
Victoria Skaltsonis took silver in 29:04 ahead of Gemma Maini (29:14).
Logan Tickell took out the U18 4km race in 12:44 in a race held concurrently with the U20s, beating home U20 winner Nicholas Martin (12:46).
Alexandra Schulz from Williamstown Athletics Club won the women’s U20 4km in 15:32.
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