Stawell Gift's record crowds

STAWELL - Stawell Athletic Club officials have raised the bar even further with regards to the success of the iconic Stawell Gift, confirming record crowd throughout the Easter weekend.

Club president Jeremy Irvine said crowds were up across the whole weekend, making it the most successful Australia Post Stawell Gift in almost a decade.

Mr Irvine said a combination of good weather, excellent running and activities for families proved a real winner for the club.

"We were definitely pleased with the weekend's crowd," he said.

"Numbers were strong over the entire weekend. Sunday was really a spectacular day and there was an excellent crowd.

"Obviously having the little athletics on the Sunday and the coaching by some of our elite athletes, it provided a real boost for everyone."

Mr Irvine said there were numerous close finishes over various distances throughout the weekend and that really had the crowd involved.

"The people who turned out on the weekend got to see some great racing," he said.

"Even the Stawell Gift final was right down to one five hundredths of a second. It doesn't get any closer than that."

Mr Irvine confirmed that in the event of a dead heat being declared in the Australia Post Stawell Gift final, the two athletes involved - Gus Carty-Cowling and eventual winner Luke Versace, would have been pitted in a run-off to determine an outright winner.

He said fortunately, this was not required.

"The Australia Post Stawell Gift Final is the only race that we would have a run-off for. In other events, a dead heat can be awarded," Mr Irvine said.

"However, if the final was declared a dead heat, they would have run it again.

"This has only ever happened once before, back in 1947.

"It is definitely an option we have in such a close finish, but fortunately with technology that is around these days, we are able to separate athletes at the finish more now than ever before."

Mr Irvine said the close finish in the Australia Post Stawell Gift final certainly had the crowd involved.

"A personal favourite of mine from the weekend was the suspense within the crowd while the judges deliberated after the final," he said.

"The crowd cheered the judges and the suspense really built as they walked across the track with the coloured flags to declare a winner.

"The crowd was right behind it and were very involved in the finish. It wasn't just one or two people either, the entire crowd on that side of the oval was cheering the judged. That is a moment that will always stay with me."

Mr Irvine also praised the fashions on the field which formed part of the Driscoll, McIllree and Dickinson Ladies Day on Saturday.

"Ladies day and the fashions has really gone from strength to strength over the years," he said.

"I like that because it gives family members other options to enjoy.

"The day is very family orientated, with excellent running, the fashions and activities for children and that becomes a very important part of the whole weekend."

Mr Irvine said the new promoters, Twenty3 had done a magnificent job having everything in readiness for what was a successful and exciting Australia Post Stawell Gift.

He also paid tribute to Australia Post, as it was the 20th consecutive year that the company had been the major sponsor of the Stawell Gift.

"The Stawell Athletic Club has had a wonderful association with Australia Post now for 20 years and it has been a fantastic journey," Mr Irvine said.

"When Australia Post first took over as sponsor, I was still a colour kid running around Central Park. It is a big thrill for me to be president in Australia Post's 20th year as Stawell Gift sponsor."

Mr Irvine will retain the president's role until the annual general meeting in October.

He said he had been delighted with the way the season had panned out, particularly the success of the Australia Post Stawell Gift in 2014.

"It was just an amazing weekend and to see it all come together the way it did was a great thrill for me personally," he said.

"My term as president was a wonderful experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

"The committee all worked hard as a team and we managed to once again put on a really good show.

"We will sit back over the next couple of weeks, reflect on the success of this year's Stawell Gift and start planning immediately for 2015."

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