Concongella Vineyards 2011


Motivated by his first taste of the big time at the Stawell Gift Carnival, club speedster Ashley Cowen was too classy for a group of gritty young chasers in the 6.5 kilometre Concongella Vineyards Handicap.

The combined Stawell & Ararat Cross Country Club and Stawell Amateur Athletic Club event was Ashley’s first outing since his auspicious debut at the Gift when he matched motors with Olympian Craig Mottram and Kenyan stars in the Town Hall Hotel Backmarkers two-miler.

“It was a fantastic experience just to be part of the action at Stawell. I felt like I belonged and it’s made me a lot keener to train and do the best I can,” said Ashley, who has been torn between two loves – middle distance running and football.

Despite his decisive winning margin on Sunday, Ashley found the going “pretty tough” as he rarely runs beyond five kilometres – and has achieved success more on natural ability than hard training.

Swooping to the lead with 400 metres to run at Garry Rice’s picturesque grapevines venue, the seventeen-year-old flyer dashed away from the improving Ashley Jeans to win by 28 seconds in a blistering time of 21 minutes and 27 seconds. Tayla Notting clung on gamely to finish third.

With Nathan Makovec not far away in fourth place and Jeremy Hargreaves sixth, teenage runners dominated the race by filling five of the first six placings.

Peter Gibson (fifth) led the older brigade home ahead of Charlie Jones (seventh) who ended a sequence of four second placings.

The Amateurs race was won impressively by Karl Scott who decided “about five seconds from the start” to go out hard.

Scotty, 22, began like a scalded cat, leaving Col Barnett somewhat “psyched” by the task of having to overhaul the tearaway.

Col has run fastest time in four of the five races staged by the Amateursso far this season but Karl’s 24 mins. 16 secs. was a mere one second slower on Sunday. “And that was only because I had to stop and tie my shoelaces,” he said.