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February 2018

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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Wangaratta Gift track moved for first time in 90 years.

Wangaratta Gift track moved for first time in 90 years.

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organisers Bernie Grealy (left) and
Greg O'Keeffe peg out the new course
for the prestigious Wangaratta Gift.

Time for a change
Wangaratta Chronicle

THE Wangaratta Sports Carnival will break from a longstanding tradition in 2011, with organisers opting to move the running track of the prestigious Wangaratta Gift for the first time in its history.

The Gift has been run across the Norm Minns Oval at the clubrooms end of the ground for nearly 90 years, but this year it will be run lengthwise down the ground, finishing up at the Evans Street end.

Traditionally the Gift track was located because of access to temporary lighting, but with training lights having been in place for years and further upgrades on the way, Wangaratta Sports Club president Greg O'Keeffe said the time was right for a change.

"It's a fairly major change," O'Keeffe said.

"There were several reasons why we ran it where we did, but those reasons are long gone.

"Ideally all our races will finish in the same spot now the Gift races, the 400m runners and the cycling finishes about there as well, so they will all be in the same area.

"We're trying to make it a bit easier for everyone, and it will mean the crowd will be able to get a great view from the grandstand.

"Next year with the new light towers it will look sensational, and we'll be able to run it a bit later in the evening as well."

O'Keeffe said he was anticipating a quality field of entrants, not only in the Gift, but all events at the carnival, which will be held on Saturday, January 22.

"I was at a meeting two weeks ago, and this (new track layout) has been very well received," he said.

"Numbers have been very good at all the meetings so far, so I think our entries will be excellent.

"Some of the Wang Cycling Club guys have been to Shepparton and Bendigo clubs in the past month or so and they have been encouraging riders to enter, so they're confident too.

"But with VAL (Victorian Athletic League) and the running side of it things are looking very strong, and they have been for the last five or six years now, so it should be very good.

"There's only about four 3200m events on the calendar now, and we run one of those with very good prize money, so that brings a few people in too.

"Also the fact we have the woodchopping back again we're one of the only carnivals to hold running, cycling and woodchopping."

O'Keeffe said the recent attention drawn to the ongoing plight of the carnival, which was once arguably the biggest event sporting or otherwise - on Wangaratta's calendar, would hopefully see the public get behind it once more.

"We had the International Rules footy game, and that was great for two reasons," he said.

"One was that it raised $1700, and the other was that the footy clubs got involved.

"We're trying to get a bit of ownership back into Wangaratta where people really want to come, so that helped push that side of it as well.

"The carnival has been running for 90 years, and we'd really like to see it reach 100."

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