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 Stawell Gift began in 1878 at the end of the gold rush, as the "Easter Gift" of ₤24 (several thousands in today's dollars) conducted by the Stawell Athletic Club in a program of seven races, most run in multiple heats.[2] 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 Woolworths and the finals are televised live around Australia.

               The Stawell Stalwarts, (1952).

The event was historically run over 130 yards (118.9 m).[3] 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.[4]

In 2010 the Gift track was found to be around 3 metres too long, with times much slower than expected during the heats.[5]

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 only semi-final winners advancing to the final. (Six semi-finals were first run in 1988, before which there were only five semi-finals.)

The Gift is run on a 120 m 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 should 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.[4] The Women's Gift has run since 1989.[4] In 2015 the Women's Gift had equal prizemoney with the men's for the first time.

Records[edit]

Winners[edit]

Winners of the Stawell Gift have been:[4]

Year Runner From Handicap (yd or m) Time (s)
1878 Millard, WilliamWilliam Millard Condah, Victoria[6] 3 12.75
1879 Grose, E.S.E.S. Grose Creswick, Victoria 6.5 13
1880 Witney, C.G.C.G. Witney Brighton, Victoria 7.5 12.7
1881 Rodgers, J.J. Rodgers Avoca, Victoria 9 12
1882 Parkinson, A.B.A.B. Parkinson Sale, Victoria 11 12.75
1883 Kinnear, BobbyBobby Kinnear Dimboola, Victoria 14 12.5
1884 Smith, W.W. Smith Melbourne, Victoria 7.5 12
1885 Mummery, W.W. Mummery Bowman's Forest, Victoria 10 12.25
1886 Clarke, W.BW.B Clarke England 7 11.75
1887 Brown, J.J. Brown Balmoral, Victoria 12 11.75
1888 Bingham, CharlesCharles Bingham Fitzroy, Victoria 10.5 11.75
1889 Skinner, E.SE.S Skinner United States of America 9 12
1890 Midson, J.J. Midson Eaglehawk, Victoria 11 11.875
1891 Martin, H.H. Martin Maryborough, Victoria 13 11.75
1892 Heppner, A.A. Heppner Port Melbourne, Victoria 12 12
1893 Hough, E.J.E.J. Hough Mudgee, New South Wales 12.5 11.5
1894 Breen, P.J.P.J. Breen Gippsland, Victoria 11 11.75
1895 Joy, W.E.W.E. Joy Dunolly, Victoria 5 12.25
1896 Nesbitt, R.G.R.G. Nesbitt Adelaide, South Australia 11.5 12.5
1897 Stuckey, GeorgeGeorge Stuckey North Melbourne, Victoria 12 12.2
1898 Lewis, J.S.J.S. Lewis Euroa, Victoria 14 11.8
1899 Clark, NormNorm Clark Roseberry, South Australia 14.5 11.8
1900 Strickland, DaveDave Strickland Menzies, Western Australia 10 12
1901 Kenny, E.T.E.T. Kenny Woodend, Victoria 14 12
1902 Tredinnick, AlfAlf Tredinnick Malvern, Victoria 11.5 12.2
1903 Dew, H.H. Dew Adelaide, South Australia 12 12.2
1904 Flanagan, J.F.J.F. Flanagan East Melbourne, Victoria 12 12.2
1905 McKenzie, C.N.C.N. McKenzie Mount Gambier, South Australia 10.5 12
1906 Thompson, E.W.E.W. Thompson Abbotsford, Victoria 10 12.2
1907 Knox, C.W.C.W. Knox Numurkah, Victoria 12.5 12.4
1908 King, ChrisChris King Rutherglen, Victoria 12 11.8
1909 Rigby, HarryHarry Rigby Tasmania 11.5 11.8
1910 Dancey, TomTom Dancey Toowoomba, Queensland 13 11.6
1911 Devine, D.HD.H Devine Stawell, Victoria 13 11.4
1912 Carter, E.E.E.E. Carter Kew, Victoria 11.5 12.2
1913 George, ErnestErnest George North Melbourne, Victoria 12.5 12.2
1914 Robinson, BillyBilly Robinson Maldon, Victoria 12 11.8
1915 Fleming, E.E. Fleming Elphinstone, Victoria 10 11.4
1916 Cassidy, C.P.C.P. Cassidy South Melbourne, Victoria 13.25 12
1917 Swindells, F.CF.C Swindells Moonee Ponds, Victoria 11.75 12.2
1918 Roach, A.A. Roach Melbourne, Victoria 14 12.6
1919 Evans, H.W.H.W. Evans Abbotsford, Victoria 10.5 12.2
1920 Cashmore, A.G.A.G. Cashmore Balliang, Victoria 7 12.4
1921 Jennings, L.J.L.J. Jennings Parkville, Victoria 10.25 12.4
1922 Till, P.L.P.L. Till Cobden, Victoria 10.5 11.7
1923 Curran, J.E.J.E. Curran Stawell, Victoria 9 12
1924 Twomey, Sr., BillBill Twomey, Sr. Stawell, Victoria 8.5 12.1
1925 Banner, T.T. Banner Carthcart, Victoria 5 12.15625
1926 Allen, W.G.W.G. Allen Coburg, Victoria 9.5 12 4/16
1927 Miles, T.J.T.J. Miles Bundaberg, Queensland 10 12.0625
1928 Cooper, LynchLynch Cooper Jeparit, Victoria 8 11.9375
1929 Hearn, ClarrieClarrie Hearn Tocumwal, New South Wales 10 11.9375
1930 Hodge, R.K.R.K. Hodge Lakes Entrance, Victoria 11.75 11.8125
1931 Ralph, F.J.F.J. Ralph Richmond, South Australia 9.5 11 14/16
1932 Barker, R.L.R.L. Barker Essendon, Victoria 11.75 12 2/16
1933 Heath, C.G.C.G. Heath Baileston East, Victoria 11 11 10/16
1934 Roberts, T.L.T.L. Roberts Mulwala, New South Wales 9.75 11 9/16
1935 Bishop, M.M.M.M. Bishop Port Pirie, South Australia 7.5 12
1936 McCann, RonRon McCann Castlemaine, Victoria 6.5 12 4/16
1937 Bradley, F.A.F.A. Bradley Coolamon, New South Wales 10 12
1938 Grant, JackJack Grant Geelong, Victoria 11.5 11 11/16
1939 Sprague, L.W.L.W. Sprague Ballarat, Victoria 9.5 11 14/16
1940 Reid, A.J.A.J. Reid Port Augusta, South Australia 8.5 12 3/16
1941 Hutton, W.K.W.K. Hutton Devonport, Tasmania 7.25 12 6/16
1942 - 1945 No race (WWII)
1946 Deane, TommyTommy Deane Wahring, Victoria 7 11 14/16
1947 Martin, ArthurArthur Martin Ballarat, Victoria 4.5 11 14/16
1948 Brudenall, TomTom Brudenall Ballarat, Victoria 8 12 3/16
1949 Cann, J.E.J.E. Cann Broken Hill, New South Wales 8.25 11 15/16
1950 Trewick, KenKen Trewick Brisbane, Queensland 10 11 15/16
1951 Hutchinson, GeraldGerald Hutchinson Brighton, Victoria 8 11 13/16
1952 Mann, LanceLance Mann Albury, New South Wales 7.25 11 14/16
1953 Hart, RoyRoy Hart Chelsea, Victoria 5.75 12
1954 Hayes, JackJack Hayes Rutherglen, Victoria 9 11 8/10
1955 O'Donnell, JohnJohn O'Donnell Preston, Victoria 8.75 12
1956 Williams, BillBill Williams Altona, Victoria 12 11 8/10
1957 Carr, JackJack Carr Bacchus Marsh, Victoria 10.5 11 8/10
1958 Durant, MalcolmMalcolm Durant Ascot Vale, Victoria 8.5 11 8/10
1959 Treacey, GeorgeGeorge Treacey Northcote, Victoria 11.25 11 8/10
1960 McCann, BillBill McCann Dimboola, Victoria 6.75 11 8/10
1961 Savage, ColinColin Savage Nunawading, Victoria 6.25 12 2/10
1962 Beachley, NoelNoel Beachley Rosanna, Victoria 8.25 12 1/10
1963 Bell, A.J (John)A.J (John) Bell Moonee Ponds, Victoria 12 12
1964 Hussey, NoelNoel Hussey Echuca, Victoria 8.5 12.1
1965 Cox, BruceBruce Cox Brighton, Victoria 7.5 12
1966 Howard, BillBill Howard Wodonga, Victoria 8.75 11.9
1967 Howard, BillBill Howard Wodonga, Victoria 5.75 11.6
1968 Miller, IanIan Miller Surrey Hills, Victoria 9.75 11.6
1969 McLeod, BarryBarry McLeod Braybrook, Victoria 7.75 12
1970 Foley, BarryBarry Foley Ascot Vale, Victoria 11 11.8
1971 McGregor, TrevaTreva McGregor Templestowe, Victoria 7.25 11.7
1972 Foley, BarryBarry Foley Ascot Vale, Victoria 7.5 11.8
1973# Moss, BernieBernie Moss Croydon, Victoria 10.75 12.1
1974 Durham, PeterPeter Durham Ripponlea, Victoria 7.25 12.0
1975 Ravelomanantsoa, Jean-LouisJean-Louis Ravelomanantsoa Madagascar Scratch 12.0
1976 Pollock, AllenAllen Pollock Heidelberg, Victoria 8.5 12.1
1977 Edmonson, WarrenWarren Edmonson United States of America 1.25 12.0
1978 Proudlock, SteveSteve Proudlock Gunnedah, New South Wales 8 11.9
1979 McMahon, NoelNoel McMahon Ivanhoe, Victoria 8.25 12.0
1980 Dinan, JohnJohn Dinan Viewbank, Victoria 5.5 12.3
1981 McNeill, GeorgGeorg McNeill Scotland 4 11.9
1982* Perry, ChrisChris Perry Malvern, Victoria 7 12.19
1983 O'Brien, DallasDallas O'Brien Bentleigh, Victoria 6 12.22
1984 Singleton, PaulPaul Singleton Jilliby, New South Wales 5 11.95
1985 Young, PaulPaul Young Essendon, Victoria 10.75 12.07
1986 Chapman, GlenGlen Chapman Albury, New South Wales 7 12.01
1987 Elliott, RussellRussell Elliott Preston, Victoria 8.25 12.13
1988 Antonitch, ScottScott Antonitch Roselands, New South Wales 6 12.28
1989 McIntyre, SimonSimon McIntyre Wagga Wagga, New South Wales 6 12.14
1990 Capobianco, DeanDean Capobianco Kalamunda, Western Australia 2.25 12.29
1991 Brimacombe, SteveSteve Brimacombe Eltham, Victoria 6.75 11.93
1992 McManus, AndrewAndrew McManus Essendon, Victoria 7 12.03
1993 Richardson, JasonJason Richardson Caulfield South, Victoria 7.5 11.94
1994 Lewis, RodRod Lewis Ringwood, Victoria 7.5 12.05
1995 Crawford, GlennGlenn Crawford Katamatite, Victoria 6.5 11.79
1996 Hutton, SteveSteve Hutton Alberton, South Australia 6 12.26
1997 Millard, DanielDaniel Millard Mount Gambier, South Australia 10.75 11.98
1998 Seers, DaleDale Seers Edithvale, Victoria 7.75 12.04
1999 Matthews, RodneyRodney Matthews Buninyong, Victoria 9.5 11.91
2000 Pearce, JarramJarram Pearce Wodonga, Victoria 8 12.01
2001 Pym, AndrewAndrew Pym South Riverview, New South Wales 7.75 11.97
2002 Uhlmann, StuartStuart Uhlmann Cedar Grove, Queensland 6.75 11.98
2003 Ross, JoshJosh Ross North Lambton, New South Wales 7 11.92
2004 Hunte, JasonJason Hunte Barbados 4.25 12.07
2005 Ross, JoshJosh Ross Gillieston, New South Wales Scratch 12.36
2006 Mott, AdrianAdrian Mott Essendon, Victoria 7.25 11.98
2007 Allen, NathanNathan Allen Toowoomba, Queensland 5.25 12.35
2008 Jamieson, SamSam Jamieson Williamstown, Victoria 6.00 12.09
2009 Stubbs, AaronAaron Stubbs Lismore, New South Wales 7.25 11.87
2010 Burbidge, TomTom Burbidge Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 8.75 12.01
2011 Williams, MitchellMitchell Williams Gold Coast, Queensland 6.50 12.18
2012 Wiltshire, MatthewMatthew Wiltshire Ballarat, Victoria 8.00 12.22
2013 Robinson, AndrewAndrew Robinson Launceston, Tasmania 7.25 12.01
2014 Versace, LukeLuke Versace Bayside, Victoria 10.0 12.33
2015 Goodwin, MurrayMurray Goodwin Gold Coast, Queensland 6.5 12.10
2016 Dunmall, IsaacIsaac Dunmall Brisbane, Queensland 6.75 12.17

Notes:
# Converted to metric distances in 1973.
* Commenced electronic timing in 1982.[4]

1878: First winner[edit]

The inaugural winner was William J. "Bill" Millard, a farmer from Condah, Victoria,[7] 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);[3]
  • 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.[20]

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.[21]

On 16 September 2009 Victorian Premier John Brumby announced more than $300,000 State Government funding to keep the Stawell Gift in Stawell.[22]

Womens Gift[edit]

Year Runner Handicap (m) Time (s)
1989 Taylor, R.R. Taylor 8.5 11.55
1990 Marantelli, BernadetteBernadette Marantelli 8.75 11.67
1991 Carr, SueSue Carr 12.75 11.52
1992 O'Donell, J.J. O'Donell 13 11.39
1993 Benton, A.A. Benton 11.5 11.42
1994 Parkes, KarenKaren Parkes 10.5 11.21
1995 Carr, SueSue Carr 13 11.57
1996 Simpson, KarenKaren Simpson 11 11.58
1997 De Jong, MelissaMelissa De Jong 4.75 12.05
1998 Harris, NarelleNarelle Harris 9.25 11.7
1999 Cowling, VanessaVanessa Cowling 18.75 11.51
2000 Lewis, TamsynTamsyn Lewis 5 11.7
2001 McGibbon, JenniferJennifer McGibbon 4 11.76
2002 Ivisic, SnezanaSnezana Ivisic 9 11.67
2003 Meagher, KimberleyKimberley Meagher 14.5 11.15
2004 Foster, RebeccaRebecca Foster 14.75 11.57
2005 Fairweather, AlisonAlison Fairweather 13 11.64
2006 Brailey, SamanthaSamantha Brailey 14.5 14.25
2007 Anderson, BronwynBronwyn Anderson 10.5 14.03
2008 Brennan, CatherineCatherine Brennan 4.75 13.88
2009 Greaves, TrishaTrisha Greaves 6 13.6
2010 Watt, JacquelineJacqueline Watt 12.25 14.06
2011 Howard, MelissaMelissa Howard 9.5 13.9
2012 Breen, MelissaMelissa Breen Scratch 13.95
2013 Strauss, DavinaDavina Strauss 10 13.98
2014 Dobbyn, HollyHolly Dobbyn 11.5 13.13
2015 O'Dwyer, GraceGrace O'Dwyer 10.25 13.4
2016 Martin, TaliaTalia Martin 13 13.7

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Stawell Gift: Top Ten Trivia". Official Website. Stawell Gift 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Town Talk". Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1857 - 1918). Vic.: National Library of Australia. 27 March 1878. p. 2. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Bill Howard's Stawell Gift, 1966". theage.com.au. The Age Company Ltd. 15 April 2006. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Stawell Gift Results". Official Website. Stawell Athletic Club. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Brehaut, David (4 April 2010). "Stawell Gift: track distance error the worst mis-measure". Ballarat: The Courier. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "WON FIRST GIFT". The Argus (Melbourne) (28,918). Victoria, Australia. 29 April 1939. p. 13. Retrieved 27 August 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  7. ^ Stawell Gift website. "History" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-10-17 
  8. ^ AFL Tables: George Stuckey
  9. ^ AFL Tables: Norman Clark
  10. ^ AFL Tables: Dave Strickland
  11. ^ Athletics, Kalgoorlie Western Argus, (Tuesday, 15 April 1902), p.38; AFL Tables: Alf Tredinnick.
  12. ^ Athletics, The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, (Tuesday, 13 April 1909), p.3; AFL Tables: Harry Rigby.
  13. ^ Stawell Easter Gift, (Broken Hill) Barrier Miner, (Thursday, 16 April 1914), p.2; AFL Tables: Billy Robinson.
  14. ^ AFL Tables: Bill Twomey, Sr.
  15. ^ AFL Tables: Clarrie Hearn
  16. ^ AFL Tables: Ron McCann
  17. ^ AFL Tables: Jack Grant
  18. ^ AFL Tables: Lance Mann
  19. ^ "Tigers of all sports". 3 January 2015. 
  20. ^ ABC The World Today. "The World Today Archive: Stawell Gift to stay put". Retrieved 2009-07-14 
  21. ^ ABC Sport. "Ballarat looks to poach Stawell Gift". Retrieved 2009-07-14 
  22. ^ Premier announces funding for Stawell Gift. "Premier announces funding for Stawell Gift". Retrieved 2009-09-16 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Stawell Gift at Wikimedia Commons