Professional Running

Professional running is popular in Australia. It developed as an alternative to amateur running which was a requirement of participation at the Olympic Games. Professional runners race for prize money, and betting on the runners is also popular. The runners are handicapped by giving the slower runners a start - the distance determined by previous running form. The most famous professional running race in Australia is the Stawell Gift.

The Stawell Gift

The Stawell Gift is held in the town of Stawell, in country Victoria. It is run every Easter, on Central Park Oval. The Oval is very picturesque, with roses, fountains and a grandstand restored to its 1899 glory. The town itself was once a rich mining town. In the 1930s, three steam trains would bring crowds from Melbourne, and crowds of 30,000 were not unheard of. It is still a popular race, and nowadays crowds will still be close to 10,000.

The Gift is a handicap race, run over 120m for the back markers running off scratch. It is the oldest professional footrace in the world. It was first run in 1878, won by a farmer W. Millard. The prizes for the winner and runner up of the first race was a pig. Third place got a sheep. There are still great prizes to be won today, and the high cash prize attracts many interstate and international sprinters to this action packed weekend of running.athletics track lane numbers

Here are some of the great moments in the history of this event: