STAWELL - Stawell Athletic Club has confirmed the handicap limit for the 2013 Australia Post Stawell Gift has been lifted to twelve metres.
The decision to increase the limit from last year's mark of 11 was announced on Tuesday following a meeting between Victorian Athletic League officials and Stawell Athletic Club at the Ballarat Gift at the weekend.
Stawell Athletic Club president, Scotney Hayter, said the news was relayed to club officials on Monday night at an executive meeting.
"The Gift will be run from scratch to 12 metres," Mr Hayter said.
"The VAL was happy for us to decide on the limit, but we both had constrictions (being the limit)."
The issue of Gift handicapping was raised last week following the release of a Victorian Runners and Trainers Association email, which was sent to VAL trainers and athletes.
The email was asking them to complete a survey in relation to the inclusion of Jamaican sprint star, Asafa Powell.
It said that the results of the survey 'will contribute to the decision making on Asafa's handicap.'
Mr Hayter said he had seen the survey but couldn't comment publicly on its contents.
However, Mr Hayter did confirm that the rise in the mark is temporary in the wake of Powell's inclusion.
"It will be only this year. We agreed on the 12 metres based on Asafa coming," he said.
Mr Hayter said the rise in the handicap is a positive thing for the runners.
"It gives runners a bit of a lift," he said, adding that individual handicaps are up to the VAL to decide.
Meanwhile, the club has expressed its disappointment that no representative of the Victorian Runners and Trainer's Association (VRTA) attended Saturday's meeting nor was there any summation of the recent VRTA survey provided to the meeting.
Gift promoter David Culbert said there were a couple of reasons given, one being the VRTA was confused as to what day the meeting was on which he described as 'puzzling.'
"Given the level of interest the survey created, the club was certainly disappointed they didn't attend.
"Plus the club was interested in seeing the results."
The results of the survey have since been released to the ProTrack forum and there were no surprises.
"Those who have vested interest clearly wanted handicaps lifted and the sensible ones balanced it up."
There were 149 responses to the survey and when asked 'with Asafa Powell entering the Stawell Gift, how much of a lift do you think the rest of the field should receive?' the majority of respondents (35.3%) selected a lift of 2-2.75m, with a lift of 3-3.75m being the second favourite option at 29.5%.
Of those who selected the 2-2.75m lift, 49% also selected in the later question on lifts to the field, increasing the limit to 12 metres or beyond, while 28% preferred a limit of 10 or 11m.
Mr Culbert acknowledged that at the end of the season, every runner and trainer should have a voice but for them to be seeking input into handicap/target time matters is 'simply not appropriate.'
"It flies in the face of the Gift's integrity," he said.
Mr Culbert said the Stawell Athletic Club was close to a split division on the decision to increase the handicap, however all members were 'unequivocal' in maintaining that there be no runner starting from behind scratch.
"If Asafa Powell runs, he will probably be off scratch - starting from zero. The race is 120 metres - not 122 for backmarkers," Mr Culbert said.