Region set for footrace return

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WARM UP COMMENCED: Young athlete Hayden Crowe is warming up for the Mount Gambier Gift, with City Council discussing the event's return.

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FLASHBACK: The running of the girls 120-metre footrace in 2011, which was the last time the Mount Gambier Gift athletics carnival was staged. Isobel Redemski (left), Jess Kipping, Kaitlin Creek, Imogen Pratt, Emily Pietsch, Casey Donehue, Brooke Hines and Lauren Gilcrist cross the finishing line.

THE Mount Gambier Gift athletics event is set to be resurrected following an almost decade-long hiatus with a new vision unveiled by the state’s athletic fraternity.

Event organiser South Australian Athletic League (SAAL) will facilitate the return of the fixture as a six-hour twilight competitive running event at Vansittart Park on Saturday, December 7.

Mount Gambier City Council elected members were expected last night to canvass a funding request from the event’s proponents.

Before its collapse, the Mount Gambier Gift was a major highlight on the city’s calendar for more than 10 years.

Around 27 races will be staged at Vansittart Park, including heats, finals as well as a Little Athletics, footballers and netballers relays.

The carnival will also give Mount Gambier Little Athletics Centre’s members the chance to show their talent on a bigger stage.

SAAL events coordinator Josh Orken said planning was in full swing with up to 1000 people expected to cram Vansittart Park for the one-day athletics carnival.

While the level of prize money was yet to be determined, he said the Mount Gambier Gift would be the second richest footrace of its kind in South Australia.

He said the event would trail only behind the famed Bay Sheffield held in Adelaide.

Mr Orken said the event was expected to attract up to 300 athletes from across the region, South Australia and interstate.

According to organisers, up to 100 competitors will flow across the Victorian border.

While the prize money would be a drawcard for talented athletes, he said the “family atmosphere” would be a significant marketing component.

Speaking to The Border Watch, he called on the community and the business sector to throw support behind the event’s rejuvenation.

“We want athletes, locals, volunteers and businesses to be involved,” Mr Orken said.

He foreshadowed plans to make the Mount Gambier Gift an annual fixture with significant growth potential.

Hayden TBW Newsgroup
WARM UP COMMENCED: Young athlete Hayden Crowe is warming up for the Mount Gambier Gift, with City Council discussing the event’s return.

SAAL delegates will visit schools, clubs and indigenous communities across the region to sign up and handicap potential athletes to participate in the event.

“This will help young athletes to achieve their goals to promote inclusion.”

In a report tabled at a council committee-level meeting last night, council city growth general manager Judy Nagy said council was approached in August by a group wishing to re-establish the Mount Gambier Gift.

The sponsorship request was lodged by the South Australian Athletic League.

She said council had sponsored the Mount Gambier Gift in the past with $10,000 cash contribution and an estimated in-kind support of $2000 for preparation of the oval as well as the supply of rubbish bins, bollards and bunting.

“The current request is for $7500 in cash and $1000 in kind. The requested cash contribution represents 38pc of the stated budget and it is anticipated that 25pc of the predicted 1000 attendees will be local,” Ms Nagy said in the report.

“The reinvigoration of the Gift in Mount Gambier is being pursued with enthusiasm and support for the event may see the athletics event continue into the future.”

The last Mount Gambier Gift was held in 2011 before difficulties securing sponsorship led to its demise.

The Mount Gambier Gift was initially resurrected in 2001 after several years of no feature athletic carnival in the city.

The carnival regularly attracted top-line athletes from South Australia and Victoria, as well as some other states as runners prepared for the lucrative gift carnivals around the country.

Organisers are calling for businesses to be involved in the event, including market stalls and catering.

More information, including the call for volunteers, should be emailed to Josh Orken at