The Stawell Gift

If you are Aussie – you will know exactly what the above means, and what it relates to. Perhaps if you are a keen runner which follows international races across the World you will know what this is. We….runners….yet apparently not ‘that’ keen had never heard of it.

Over the summer we have been spending Sunday afternoons with some new friends, with one guy – Dicko – introducing us to the Stawell Gift. We were still fairly puzzled when we got there, but here are the basic facts.

  • In Australia there are running events called Gifts
  • These are like English track events – except they are on grass tracks
  • In Australia these are not considered Amateur races
  • Yet apparently amateurs can race in them but call the races pro
  • There is a BIG betting scene – with people treating the runners like horses…seriously
  • Every single race is handicapped… i.e. the supposed fastest person goes off ‘scratch’ – and then everyone is given a ‘mark’ i.e. 150m from which you start ahead of that fastest person
  • This may mean you enter the 2 mile race – but potentially run a maximum of 400m less than that
  • There is a 100m race which is televised
  • The runners wear silk vests (following the horse racing theme still….)
  • The winner wins thousands of dollars – pretty epic

It was really interesting to be at – and it lasted the entire Easter weekend in an area of Victoria called the Grampians National Park. Jonney ran in the 2 mile event which was the last day of the weekend…and came an amazing 2nd from last. To put this in perspective he ran at a serious pace and was given an poor handicap as an unknown…back for more next year!

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As it was the Easter weekend we spent the rest of the weekend exploring the Grampians and doing some beautiful walks.

At the edge of a cliff after climbing for 2 hours…terrified
At the edge of a cliff after climbing for 2 hours…terrified
Poser
Poser
Walking through the 'grand canyon'
Walking through the ‘grand canyon’

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FREEZING…yes apparently it gets cold in Australia…who would have thought it
FREEZING…yes apparently it gets cold in Australia…who would have thought it
One of the many rocks we scaled to get to the top of our walk
One of the many rocks we scaled to get to the top of our walk

Unfortunately the weekend gets booked up a year in advance – so the first night we spent camping. Nothing something Kat is ever going to love. We had a pretty basic campsite, with no running water, no flushing toilets, pretty much an area of grass, and a hole to go to the loo with a door in front. Oh…and it was freezing. And we had no sleeping bags – and a pump up mattress with no pump. Oh nor no mallet to hammer in the pegs. We were woefully unprepared. We managed to borrow someone’s electric pump from the campsite  – which took an hour pumping up the mattress from the cigarette lighter. We managed to track down a sleeping back at 8pm from a general store – oh but there was only one, and there was two of us.

Unbelievably cold in our tent! With every item of clothing we brought with us
Unbelievably cold in our tent! With every item of clothing we brought with us
Our little abode for the evening
Our little abode for the evening
Jonney executing the putting in a tent pole with no mallet movement
Jonney executing the putting in a tent pole with no mallet movement

Cue a pretty cold night. The next day it then poured with rain whilst we were at the gift. Unshowered, and never really warming up I don’t think we have ever been so happy to see the cabin we had booked for that evening. Hot water, heating, a cup of tea. Next year…we’re be a tad more prepared!

The gorgeous view from the cabin we stayed in
The gorgeous view from the cabin we stayed in

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Kat even managed to get in some cycling to top off the weekend!

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Oh…and not forgetting another ‘fun fact’ our mate Dicko taught us. Kangaroos can rip your heart out…pity we didn’t learn that until after these photos. We won’t be getting so close to the wild roos next time!

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2triathletesupsidedown

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