Women’s race would enhance top formula

TOUGH RUN:  Leading Ipswich Mile Gift hope Brittany McGowan (left) catches her breath after last Saturday’s race.


WHEN you’ve got a winning formula, it’s tempting to leave things as they are.

However, progressive Ipswich and District Athletic Club officials are considering adding a women’s gift event to the successful three-race program that’s run the past eight years.

Club president Bailey Pashley is pleased with the Ipswich Mile Gift format, which has run smoothly under the watchful eye of regional official Vic Pascoe and Queensland Athletic League secretary Steve Minns.

Each year, competitors praise the Ipswich Mile Gift and support races, organised by the Ipswich Hospital Foundation and Ipswich and District Athletic Club in conjunction with Queensland Athletic League, Queensland Athletics and the Ipswich Turf Club.

“It’s something that’s very popular and more of our club athletes are getting interested in it,” Pashley said.

“It’s a very tough event running on sand.  Being a handicap event, there’s always that unknown about it.”

The Ipswich Winter Carnival at Bill Paterson Oval is the city’s major athletics event, steeped in tradition.  The 32rd winter carnival is set down for August 24.

However, Pashley sees the annual foot races at Bundamba continuing to be well supported.

“It has grown in stature,” the respected coach said, standing on the hill at the Ipswich Turf Club.

“It’s something different, doing something away from the track.  And most of them I see out here are track runners, but this would be like a cross-country for them.

“I can understand them doing it for conditioning, particularly for the legs.

“And for those who are running cross-country, it’s good timing for them too.”

The event attracts quality competitors like this year’s early favourite, World University Games runner Brittany McGowan.

“Getting our top athletes is very important for it,” Pashley said.

“It’s a great innovation that the Ipswich Hospital Foundation did.  We (the Ipswich club) just support the running side of it.”

Last Saturday’s Gift, youth and 300m races were run in near perfect autumn conditions.

However, Pascoe said adding a fourth women’s race may be possible in the future if enough entries were received.

A female runner is yet to win the Ipswich Mile Gift, currently for male and female competitors.

“As (second placegetter) Scottie Brittain said, you’ve got to be conditioned to be able to run two ks,” Pascoe said.

“If you can’t run two ks very well, you’ll have trouble on this track.”

Pascoe also hopes that bookies will be able to bet on the 300m race in future.

Betting is currently only allowed on the Gift handicap event.