The inaugural WesTrac Bunbury Geographe Gift was a remarkable success over the weekend, with athletes from all over the country making their way to Western Australia’s South West for part of the $78,000 prize money.
The event was headlined by Australian sprint stars Trae Williams, Jack Hale and Riley Day, who featured in a Q&A Dinner event and Little Athletics clinics over the weekend. In addition, we were grateful to be joined by local Olympian Peter Bol, who has relocated to Melbourne in recent years, but returned to WA to challenged local runners over the mile.
The 120m Gift races were won by Curtin Athletics Club teammates Kiara Reddingius and Evan Jarvis.
Running from 3.75m Reddingius, held off front-marker Sophie Watts and Commonwealth Games representative Riley Day to take the win and $14,000 cheque.
Reddingius praised the initiative to bring a high prize gift to WA, explaining the challenge of pro racing is competing against your mark.
“Despite being pulled back each time for my wins and personal bests, I’ve improved past the handicap pull to win again,” Reddingius said. “My way of thinking is take that as a challenge, work hard to be competitive off that mark for your next competition, your handicap is based on you at your best, so you should always try to exceed that, and it’s a race you really have to set for.”
Reddingius understands the challenges of being an athlete in Western Australia and was unfortunate to be overlooked for Commonwealth Games selection earlier in the year, having won silver in the heptathlon at the Australian Athletics Championships and Selection Trials.
“It’s so hard for WA athletes to get depth of highly competitive races/events, so an opportunity to win such a huge sum of money is so much more than just a winning cheque, it helps fund travel for your pet event in the amateurs.The WesTrac Bunbury Geographe Gift provided the opportunity for many WA athletes to experience professional running for the first time. Reddingius said it may take some adjusting to for those inexperienced with gift racing, but it is worth the patience:
“Professional running really sets to reward those athletes who continue to fight to improve past their previous bests. A lot of people don’t quite understand the concept of handicapped running, and may get a little deflated their first couple of events if they don’t do too well. Put it in the calendar and set it as one of the big events to be ready for, I promise you, it’s worth it!”.
Jarvis described the race as a blur and after years of travelling to events on the east coast, was grateful to now have one in his own backyard.
“To have this race in our own state, and of such a high calibre with the second largest prize money behind the oldest footrace in Australia - the Stawell Gift - is such a boost for WA Athletics and for Australian pro running,” Jarvis said. “It’s incredible, I am really happy to be here and it is a fantastic event and we’ll definitely be coming back next year.”
In the 120m backmarkers race, WA’s fastest man Aaron Bresland pipped Williams on the line for the win. The extra 20m proved too tough for the Australian 100m champion, who has the fastest first 10m in the world, and Bresland came over the top to take the win.
Alanah Yukich won the women’s race ahead of local girl Julia Phillips and Rio Olympian Peter Bol used his distance training to take out the four-round men’s Skins Elimination event, while Tiana Merritt won the women’s.
The event was a great success and we look forward to returning to Bunbury for the 2019 WesTrac Bunbury Geographe Gift.
Full results can be found at: http://bunburygeographegift.com.au/results/
Photographs courtesy of photographer Dr John Forbes are available at: http://www.metrophoto.com.au/p57033612