250 athletes head to Pitreavie for Gift festival
Published 20 Jan 2012 09:07 0 Comments
AROUND 250 athletes will take part in the inaugural Pitreavie Gift athletics festival next weekend.
The event, named after the 100-year-old Australian running extravaganza, the Stawell Gift, will go ahead at Pitreavie Stadium on Sunday 29th January and will feature some of the UK's fastest 100 metres runners.
But there will be more than just sprinting, as a whole range of races have been organised over 200m, 800m and 1500m involving all age groups.
The festival draw was made on Monday night at the stadium involving local football personalities Jim Leishman and Dick Campbell, and Fife Leisure Trust's chief executive Ed Watson, who, along with Heather McLay, of the Big Partnership, made the draw for the heats of the various competitions.
Don Campbell, Scotland's leading handicapper, told Press Sport, "We have been very fortunate to be able to get the use of the magnificent facilities at Pitreavie for this occasion, which will involve athletes in virtually all age groups.
"The races will range from the 100m Gift sprint through to 1500m and we have some of the UK's best runners coming to Dunfermline to take part in it.
"I must say that I have been overwhelmed with the entry. I felt it would be a popular event but to get runners coming from Aberdeen in the north, to Sheffield, south of the border, is amazing.
"The Gift is all about an open athletics festival which shows the sport encompassing all ages and abilities and we could not have asked for a better entry."
There will be a strong Fife contingent in all categories and in the Gift the county will have some top contenders in Francis Smith, from Rosyth; Graeme Lister, of Kirkcaldy; and Pitreavie athlete and nominee for Scotland's Young Athlete of the Year, Ewan Dyer.
"There will also be Calum Tanner, from the Borders, and Edinburgh runners Greg Turnbull and Keiran Reilly, so the spectators are in for a treat," Campbell added.
Campbell has spent a lot of time devising the handicaps for the festival and he is hoping there will be plenty of photo-finishes.
"The people watching always love to see close finishes and I see my role as getting things as competitive as possible," he went on.
"I would encourage people from the area to come along to Pitreavie on Sunday and have a great day out."
And he praised the Mary Leishman Foundation for their support, "Thanks to the foundation we will have some top-class equipment on hand for a day in which we hope many runners will be able to achieve their best.
"We will also be lucky enough to have a sash from legendary Scots runner, Ricky Dunbar, who won the Powderhall Sprint in 1964.
"He is in Australia now but read about what we had planned and contacted me to say that he will be supplying the sash for the winner of the Gift, which is a magnificent thing for him to do.
"He is 71 years of age but still runs competitively Down Under."
Races will start at 10am and carry on to the big Gift final at 4.40pm.