A packed house has been treated to a rare double in the men's Stawell Gift with the winner claiming both the iconic 120 metre race plus the 200 metre handicap.
Mitcham-based sprinter Edward Ware came so close to victory in the 2011 Stawell Gift - runner-up by just one hundredth of a second, but he was sublime on Easter Monday to earn his 'redemption'.
There was drama early in the blocks with Munashe Hove false starting and one of the favourite's Luke Houlihan also pulling out of the second starting attempt before settling to run.
Finally, at the third time of asking, the field was away and Ware stormed to the line to take a famous win in 12.19 seconds off his 9.75 metre mark.
Sebastian Baird was second by just four hundredths of a second with a time of 12.23.
Ware was thrilled to win the race after suffering the close loss in 2011 and a disappointing end to his 2016 attempt to win the title.
Ware credited improved discipline and training to helping him get the win.
"I think I just came in here this year with no expectations. Normally I get the jitters, the nerves and the shakes lining up on the blocks but as weird as it was it was just another run for me," he said.
"The jubilation has set in afterwards but I think just trying to treat it as another race really helped me.
"I was just prepared and confident that I could run and I haven't put it away here a few times.
"2020 was a much needed discipline for me and I tend to go out on the town quite a bit, but when you can't do that you have to go to bed early and get up early and put on the spikes in the morning."
Ware turns 33 in a month and has trained for the race as well as working full-time as a team leader for a financial mediation organisation.
But despite his age, Ware said he wanted to give himself another chance the win Australia's richest footrace.
"I knew it wasn't getting any easier and that I probably only had one crack and I am just so glad it all came together.
"I have left in all in the past now and I a ran the best I could on the day and I was beaten by a very talented athlete, so I have no regrets there."
Ware also capped off a remarkable day by winning the Stawell Athletic Club Jack Donaldson Handicap 200 metres a feat rarely accomplished.
"I definitely got a few raised eye brows when I decided to do that, it is an unusual thing to do," he said.
"But like I said, I have been training for 200's all year and for one reason or another I haven't been able to run it.
"I never thought this would happen."
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