Mullewa Gift running race to return as centrepiece of annual show, quality competitors set to run

Victor TantiGeraldton Guardian
Rural Ambassador Julia Foulkes-Taylor with the Mullewa Gift placegetters in 2017: Eleanor Disselkoen (first), Evan Jarvis (second), and Kobi Nichols (third).
Camera IconRural Ambassador Julia Foulkes-Taylor with the Mullewa Gift placegetters in 2017: Eleanor Disselkoen (first), Evan Jarvis (second), and Kobi Nichols (third). Credit: Supplied/Supplied, Picture: Justine Rowe

After a year off because of COVID-19, the Mullewa Gift returns on Saturday, August 28.

Athletics, like all sports, has been pandemic afflicted, with cancellations the norm for 18 months.

But absence makes the heart grow fonder.

The Gift, revived in 1986 and the centrepiece of the annual Mullewa Show, is run by the West Coast Athletics League.

“We have 20 nominations but always get late entries, and we’re hoping for 24 to 30 runners for the Gift and other races,” league president Mandy Mason said.

“Nominations include two-time winner Evan Jarvis, Carryne Teo, who was second to her brother, Bryce, in 2018 and Taylor Sharpe, who was runner-up in 2019.

“Defending champion Jack Watters is coming — he was 14 when he won but he’s older, bigger and stronger and will have a tougher handicap.

“Bradley Dawson is also in. He won the 550m handicap in 2019 when he gave away a 110m start to the front marker.”

The Gift is a handicapped 120m race and generally produces a blanket finish, with the winner being the runner at his or her (five women have won) best on the day.

Age is no barrier.

The youngest champion was 13-year-old Adriaan Pelser in 2013, while 2017 winner Eleanor Disselkoen was a little older, but also 13. In 2014, 74-year-old Barry Hennighan came second, and no runner-up was ever cheered more lustily.

Other events include a 120m novice handicap, a 70m and 550m handicap and a new race to honour one of WA’s greatest athletics coaches, the late Matt Barber.

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