Stawell Gift

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The Stawell Gift is Australia's oldest and richest short distance running race. It is run over every Easter weekend by the Stawell Athletic Club, with the main race finals on the holiday Monday, at Central Park, Stawell in the Grampian Mountains district of western Victoria.

The race is run on grass over 120 metres up a slight gradient. Competitors are handicapped according to their form, with each competitor 'marked' by between 0 m and 10 m to theoretically reach the finish line at the same time.[1] This process is administered by the Victorian Athletic League (VAL). Due to the relatively short handicap limit, the class of runners that can potentially win the event is limited compared to other Gifts in Australia.

The winner is, hypothetically, the runner who can best 'rise to the occasion' and perform better than their previous form, although the key can often be to perform slightly below their best in lead-up events and thus receive a favourable handicap.

Central Park, Stawell, site of the Stawell Gift, with the historic grandstand in centre frame; the Gift is run diagonally across the oval, finishing to the right of the grandstand near the large tree

History[edit]

The first Stawell Gift was in 1878, as a fun race between miners at the end of the gold rush. It has been raced every year since, except for four years during the Second World War. Originally it was the townspeople putting together an entertainment package to happen over Easter, complete with 'special trains' to the event. Today it is the most prestigious footrace in Australia, with a $40,000AUD first prize. The event is sponsored by Australia Post and the finals are televised live around Australia.

               The Stawell Stalwarts, (1952).

The event was historically run over 130 yards (118.9 m).[2] In 1973 the race converted to the metric system, and the distance was altered to 120 metres (131.2 yd), essentially an identical distance. Electronic timing was introduced in 1982 thus allowing higher precision in race results.[3]

In 2010 the Gift track was found to be around 3 meters to long, with times much slower that expected during the heats.[4]

Format[edit]

On Easter Saturday the heats are conducted, with the winner of each heat going through to the semi finals along with the next best fastest times. On Easter Monday the six semi finals are run approximately 2 hours before the final with semi final winners only advancing to the final. (Six semi finals were first run in 1988, before that there were only five semi finals.)

The Gift is run on a 120m grass track in front of the 100 year-old Stawell Grandstand, and the athletes run in lanes that are separated by lane ropes rather than painted lines.[1]

The idea of the handicap system is that all runners would theoretically cross the line at the same time. The handicapper works out what mark or handicap the runner will have according to their previous performances in sprint events. Currently the most a runner may be handicapped is 10 metres, although this is occasionally increased to 11. Each metre in handicap denotes approximately a tenth of a second in time. Race winners are often those that are able to 'beat the handicapper', in that they need to perform well enough to qualify for the event and the finals, but below what they are truly capable of, so that they receive a handicap that gives them the best chance of a victory.[1] The handicapping system often ends up pitting local runners against international professionals.

Gambling is allowed in the venue, and there is an extensive bookmaker's compound.

While the Stawell Gift is the feature race, the meeting also includes many other races, with more than sixty events taking place over the three-day meeting.[3] The Women's Gift has run since 1989.[3]

Records[edit]

Winners[edit]

Winners of the Stawell Gift have been:[3]

Year Runner From Handicap (yd/m) Time (s)
1878 Millard, William J. Condah, Victoria 3 12.75
1879 Grose, E.S. Creswick, Victoria 6.5 13
1880 Witney, C.G. Brighton, Victoria 7.5 12.7
1881 Rodgers, J. Avoca, Victoria 9 12
1882 Parkinson, A.B. Sale, Victoria 11 12.75
1883 Kinnear, R. Dimboola, Victoria 14 12.5
1884 Smith, W. Melbourne, Victoria 7.5 12
1885 Mummery, W. Bowman's Forest, Victoria 10 12.25
1886 Clarke, W.B. England 7 11.75
1887 Brown, J. Balmoral, Victoria 12 11.75
1888 Bingham, G. Fitzroy, Victoria 10.5 11.75
1889 Skinner, E.S. United States of America 9 12
1890 Midson, J. Eaglehawk, Victoria 11 11.875
1891 Martin, H. Maryborough, Victoria 13 11.75
1892 Heppner, A. Port Melbourne, Victoria 12 12
1893 Hough, E.J. Mudgee, New South Wales 12.5 11.5
1894 Breen, P.J. Gippsland, Victoria 11 11.75
1895 Joy, W.E. Dunolly, Victoria 5 12.25
1896 Nesbitt, R.G. Adelaide, South Australia 11.5 12.5
1897 Stuckey, G. North Melbourne, Victoria 12 12.2
1898 Lewis, J.S. Euroa, Victoria 14 11.8
1899 Clarke, Norman C. Roseberry, South Australia 14.5 11.8
1900 Strickland, D. Menzies, Western Australia 10 12
1901 Kenny, E.T. Woodend, Victoria 14 12
1902 Tredennick, A.E. Malvern, Victoria 11.5 12.2
1903 Dew, H. Adelaide, South Australia 12 12.2
1904 Flanagan, J.F. East Melbourne, Victoria 12 12.2
1905 McKenzie, C.N. Mount Gambier, South Australia 10.5 12
1906 Thompson, E.W. Abbotsford, Victoria 10 12.2
1907 Knox, C.W. Numurkah, Victoria 12.5 12.4
1908 King, Chris Rutherglen, Victoria 12 11.8
1909 Rigby, H. Tasmania 11.5 11.8
1910 Tom Dancey Toowoomba, Queensland 13 11.6
1911 Devine, D.H. Stawell, Victoria 13 11.4
1912 Carter, E.E. Kew, Victoria 11.5 12.2
1913 George, E.A. North Melbourne, Victoria 12.5 12.2
1914 Robinson, W. Maldon, Victoria 12 11.8
1915 Fleming, E. Elphinstone, Victoria 10 11.4
1916 Cassidy, C.P. South Melbourne, Victoria 13.25 12
1917 Swindells, F.C. Moonee Ponds, Victoria 11.75 12.2
1918 Roach, A. Melbourne, Victoria 14 12.6
1919 Evans, H.W. Abbotsford, Victoria 10.5 12.2
1920 Cashmore, A.G. Balliang, Victoria 7 12.4
1921 Jennings, L.J. Parkville, Victoria 10.25 12.4
1922 Till, P.L. Cobden, Victoria 10.5 11.7
1923 Curran, J.E. Stawell, Victoria 9 12
1924 Twomey, Sr., William P. Stawell, Victoria 8.5 12.1
1925 Banner, T. Carthcart, Victoria 5 12.15625
1926 Allen, W.G. Coburg, Victoria 9.5 12 4/16
1927 Miles, T.J. Bundaberg, Queensland 10 12.0625
1928 Cooper, L. Jeparit, Victoria 8 11.9375
1929 Hearne, C.H. Tocumwal, New South Wales 10 11.9375
1930 Hodge, R.K. Lakes Entrance, Victoria 11.75 11.8125
1931 Ralph, F.J. Richmond, South Australia 9.5 11 14/16
1932 Barker, R.L. Essendon, Victoria 11.75 12 2/16
1933 Heath, C.G. Baileston East, Victoria 11 11 10/16
1934 Roberts, T.L. Mulwala, New South Wales 9.75 11 9/16
1935 Bishop, M.M. Port Pirie, South Australia 7.5 12
1936 McCann, R.C. Castlemaine, Victoria 6.5 12 4/6
1937 Bradley, F.A. Coolamon, New South Wales 10 12
1938 Grant, Jack W. Geelong, Victoria 11.5 11 11/16
1939 Sprague, L.W. Ballarat, Victoria 9.5 11 14/16
1940 Reid, A.J. Port Augusta, South Australia 8.5 12 3/16
1941 Hutton, W.K. Devonport, Tasmania 7.25 12 6/16
1942 - 1945 No race (WWII)
1946 Deane, T.V. (Tommy) Wahring, Victoria 7 11 14/16
1947 Martin, Arthur C Ballarat, Victoria 4.5 11 14/16
1948 Brudenall, T.F. (Tom) Ballarat, Victoria 8 12 3/16
1949 Cann, J.E. Broken Hill, New South Wales 8.25 11 15/16
1950 Trewick, W.K. (Ken) Brisbane, Queensland 10 11 15/16
1951 Hutchinson, Gerald R. Brighton, Victoria 8 11 13/16
1952 Mann, Lance G. Albury, New South Wales 7.25 11 14/16
1953 Hart, Roy J. Chelsea, Victoria 5.75 12
1954 Hayes, John K. Rutherglen, Victoria 9 11 8/10
1955 O'Donnell, John D. Preston, Victoria 8.75 12
1956 Williams, W.R. (Bill) Altona, Victoria 12 11 8/10
1957 Carr, J.R. (Jack) Bacchus Marsh, Victoria 10.5 11 8/10
1958 Durant, Malcolm Ascot Vale, Victoria 8.5 11 8/10
1959 Treacey, George Northcote, Victoria 11.25 11 8/10
1960 McCann, W.J. (Bill) Dimboola, Victoria 6.75 11 8/10
1961 Savage, Colin Nunawading, Victoria 6.25 12 2/10
1962 Beachley, L.N. (Noel) Rosanna, Victoria 8.25 12 1/10
1963 Bell, A.J. (John). Moonee Ponds, Victoria 12 12
1964 Hussey, Noel Echuca, Victoria 8.5 12.1
1965 Cox, Bruce Brighton, Victoria 7.5 12
1966 Howard, William G. Wodonga, Victoria 8.75 11.9
1967 Howard, William G. Wodonga, Victoria 5.75 11.6
1968 Miller, Ian Surrey Hills, Victoria 9.75 11.6
1969 McLeod, Barry Braybrook, Victoria 7.75 12
1970 Foley, Barry Ascot Vale, Victoria 11 11.8
1971 McGregor, Treva Templestowe, Victoria 7.25 11.7
1972 Foley, Barry Ascot Vale, Victoria 7.5 11.8
1973# Moss, Bernie Croydon, Victoria 10.75 12.1
1974 Durham, Peter Ripponlea, Victoria 7.25 12.0
1975 Ravelomanantsoa, Jean-Louis Madagascar Scratch 12.0
1976 Pollock, Allen Heidelberg, Victoria 8.5 12.1
1977 Edmonson, Warren United States of America 1.25 12.0
1978 Proudlock, Steve Gunnedah, New South Wales 8 11.9
1979 McMahon, Noel Ivanhoe, Victoria 8.25 12.0
1980 Dinan, John Viewbank, Victoria 5.5 12.3
1981 McNeill, George Scotland 4 11.9
1982* Perry, Chris Malvern, Victoria 7 12.19
1983 O'Brien, Dallas Bentleigh, Victoria 6 12.22
1984 Singleton, Paul Jilliby, New South Wales 5 11.95
1985 Young, Paul Essendon, Victoria 10.75 12.07
1986 Chapman, Glen Albury, New South Wales 7 12.01
1987 Elliott, Russell Preston, Victoria 8.25 12.13
1988 Antonitch, Scott Roselands, New South Wales 6 12.28
1989 McIntyre, Simon Wagga Wagga, New South Wales 6 12.14
1990 Capobianco, Dean Kalamunda, Western Australia 2.25 12.29
1991 Brimacombe, Steve Eltham, Victoria 6.75 11.93
1992 McManus, Andrew Essendon, Victoria 7 12.03
1993 Richardson, Jason A. Caulfield South, Victoria 7.5 11.94
1994 Lewis, Rod Ringwood, Victoria 7.5 12.05
1995 Crawford, Glenn Katamatite, Victoria 6.5 11.79
1996 Hutton, Steve Alberton, South Australia 6 12.26
1997 Millard, Daniel Mount Gambier, South Australia 10.75 11.98
1998 Seers, Dale Edithvale, Victoria 7.75 12.04
1999 Matthews, Rodney Buninyong, Victoria 9.5 11.91
2000 Pearce, Jarram Wodonga, Victoria 8 12.01
2001 Pym, Andrew South Riverview, New South Wales 7.75 11.97
2002 Uhlmann, Stuart Cedar Grove, Queensland 6.75 11.98
2003 Ross, Joshua North Lambton, New South Wales 7 11.92
2004 Hunte, Jason Barbados 4.25 12.07
2005 Ross, Joshua Gillieston, New South Wales Scratch 12.36
2006 Mott, Adrian Essendon, Victoria 7.25 11.98
2007 Allen, Nathan Toowoomba, Queensland 5.25 12.35
2008 Jamieson, Sam Williamstown, Victoria 6.00 12.09
2009 Stubbs, Aaron Lismore, New South Wales 7.25 11.87
2010 Burbidge, Tom Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 8.75 12.01
2011 Williams, Mitchell Currumbin, Queensland 6.50 12.18
2012 Wiltshire, Matthew Ballarat, Victoria 8.00 12.22
2013 Robinson, Andrew Launceston, Tasmania 7.25 12.01
2014 Versace, Luke Bayside, Victoria 10.0 12.33

Notes:
# Converted to metric distances in 1973.
* Commenced electronic timing in 1982.[3]

The first winner 1878[edit]

The inaugural winner was William J. (Bill) Millard, a farmer from Condah, Victoria,[5] who reputedly trained by chasing kangaroos. His great-grandson, Daniel Millard, won the Stawell Gift in 1997.[1]

Winners from scratch[edit]

Only two people have ever won the men's race running from scratch (0 m handicap):

Multiple winners[edit]

Three sprinters have won the race more than once:

  • Bill Howard (1966, 1967) (the only back-to-back winner);[2]
  • Barry Foley (1970, 1972);
  • Joshua Ross (2003, 2005).

Stawell Gift Olympians[edit]

Four Australian Olympians have won the Stawell Gift:

VFL winners[edit]

The following Gift winners also played senior VFL football:

Given the nature of the modern game, it is highly unlikely that any further AFL players would win a Stawell Gift.

Relocation[edit]

On a number of occasions there has been discussions about relocating the Stawell Gift for economic reasons.

On 14 February 2001, after much discussion about moving the event to Docklands Stadium in Melbourne, Premier Steve Bracks announced on ABC Local Radio that the Gift would be staying in Stawell and the State Government's $40,000 contribution would continue.[19]

On 14 July 2009, it was announced that Ballarat had offered the Stawell Athletic Club more than $1 million in cash and incentives, including a $20,000 grant to the Stawell Gift Hall of Fame, to relocate the Gift from Central Park in Stawell to Ballarat City Oval for five years. The Club released a statement through Secretary Ian Lawrie stating they were considering the offer but the "decision is, without question, the most difficult ever undertaken by the Committee of the Stawell Athletic Club". He said the Club would investigate and exhaust all other options to ensure the survival of Australia’s most famous footrace.[20]

On 16 September 2009 Victorian Premier John Brumby announced more than $300,000 State Government funding to keep the Stawell Gift in Stawell.[21]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Stawell Gift: Top Ten Trivia". Official Website. Stawell Gift 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Bill Howard's Stawell Gift, 1966". theage.com.au. The Age Company Ltd. 15 April 2006. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Stawell Gift Results". Official Website. Stawell Athletic Club. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Brehaut, David (4 April 2010). "Stawell Gift: track distance error the worst mis-measure". Ballarat: The Courier. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Stawell Gift website. "History". Retrieved 2008-10-17 
  6. ^ AFL Tables: George Stuckey
  7. ^ AFL Tables: Norman Clark
  8. ^ AFL Tables: Dave Strickland
  9. ^ Athletics, Kalgoorlie Western Argus, (Tuesday, 15 April 1902), p.38; AFL Tables: Alf Tredinnick.
  10. ^ Athletics, The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, (Tuesday, 13 April 1909), p.3; AFL Tables: Harry Rigby.
  11. ^ Stawell Easter Gift, (Broken Hill) Barrier Miner, (Thursday, 16 April 1914), p.2; AFL Tables: Billy Robinson.
  12. ^ AFL Tables: Bill Twomey, Sr.
  13. ^ AFL Tables: Clarrie Hearn
  14. ^ AFL Tables: Ron McCann
  15. ^ AFL Tables: Jack Grant
  16. ^ AFL Tables: Lance Mann
  17. ^ http://www.richmondfc.com.au/richmond%20senior%20players%20-%201908%20to%20present/tabid/10148/default.aspx
  18. ^ AFL Tables: Trevor McGregor
  19. ^ ABC The World Today. "The World Today Archive: Stawell Gift to stay put". Retrieved 2009-07-14 
  20. ^ ABC Sport. "Ballarat looks to poach Stawell Gift". Retrieved 2009-07-14 
  21. ^ Premier announces funding for Stawell Gift. "Premier announces funding for Stawell Gift". Retrieved 2009-09-16 

References[edit]

External links[edit]