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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Ballarat Gift moves back to traditional February date

Ballarat Gift moves back to traditional February date

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http://www.thecourier.com.au/news/local/sport/general/ballarat-gift-moves-back-to-february/2297256.aspx?storypage=0

Ballarat Gift moves back to February

BY MELANIE WHELAN
Ballarat Courier
20 Sep, 2011




THE BALLARAT Gift has moved back to its traditional February time-slot and will retain its status among Australia’s richest foot races.

The Gift had spent two years positioning itself as the Victorian Athletic League grand finale, run as a two-day meet a week after the Stawell Gift.

It will return on February 11-12 next year, largely in a bid to avoid clashes with the hectic Ballarat sporting calendar in late April and to re-establish its status as a major gift meet in its own right.

Ballarat Athletic Club president Shane Woodrow said the change had been a positive experience, but it was time to put Ballarat back on the calendar in February.

“We’ve made the decision for a variety of reasons but we’re excited to go back to our traditional time and we’ll go back much stronger because of what we have built in the past two years,” Woodrow said.

“Stawell is and always will be the grand final of events but we were able to keep some great quality athletes in the region for Ballarat.”

Daylesford Gift at Cricket Willow will instead attempt to build around Stawell as the last gift before the prestigious Easter carnival. Ballarat will keep its $30,000 gift prize money, second in the VAL to the Stawell Gift, which boasts a $60,000 prize pool for its marquee race.

The Gift returns to February with its two-day schedule, introduced when it ran post-Stawell.

A February meet will also allow Ballarat to build on its junior programming, fitting in at the peak of the Little Athletics Victoria season.

Ballarat will run on the back of the Friday night Stonnington 100-metre Gift in Prahran.

Woodrow said Stonnington’s generous $15,000 gift prize money should entice interstate athletes to the region while a stronger junior program should raise Ballarat’s profile as a family-friendly meet.

A reshuffle on the VAL calendar has created an increase in back-to-back gift meets, like Stonnington-Ballarat, in a bid to lure high quality and interstate competitors.

Daylesford Gift had been firming its meet on the Monday after the traditional Maryborough Gift on New Year’s Day.

Maryborough has shifted to January 2 next year because it also traditionally does not run on a Sunday due to church services.

Daylesford organiser Adrian Tinetti said Cricket Willow needed an alternative and sought to try the lead-in to Stawell. Tinetti said the move also worked in better with the venue’s cricket duties.

“Our first gift was in November and was well-supported. People liked the venue and it was not too far from Melbourne, so it got us known, but I think being later, at the business end of the season, we’ll now start to get more top athletes at their peak,” Tinetti said.

“It’ll be a good final hit-out for runners before Stawell.”

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