Quality field saddling up
IF PICKING the winner of the annual $5000 Ipswich One Mile Gift open race was tough in the past, try selecting this year's victor.
That was the only confident prediction of Queensland Athletics League secretary Steve Minns on the eve of the hotly-contested handicap race.
Last year's winner - Ipswich's international cross country runner Glen Yarham - is again a favourite, along with his training partner Patrick Tierman.
Yarham is returning from Poland where he finished 15th at the World University Cross Country Championships.
Tierman recently won a 1500m bronze medal at the Queensland championships.
Both runners - trained by Australian Hall of Fame coach Pat Clohessy - will start from the back of the field on the Ipswich Turf Club sand track as they chase the $3000 first prize.
"They're only five metres apart, so I'm sure they're going to pretty much work together to get through the field," Minns said.
However, while tipping the duo to feature prominently, Minns rated tomorrow's 18-strong field the best since the first foot race was run in 2006.
"From the backmarker to the frontmarker, there's a lot that are in that really good range," Minns said.
"Previously, we've had a lot of more fun run-type runners at the front. This time, we seem to have a lot more seasoned state and national runners."
Minns is excited to see state 800m and 1500m bronze medallist Kate Van Homrigh entered.
"She could be our first female winner," Minns said.
Ipswich and District Athletic Club competitors Connor McNamara, Connor O'Leary and Doug Amiss are testing their progress in the race, which bookies field bets on tomorrow.
Last year's third placegetter Andrew Barralet has returned for the sixth time.
Gold Coast-based Luke Eastwell is a rising runner to watch, having impressed at Australian under-20 level.
Minns said recent wet weather should ensure quicker times.
"Rain makes it easier - it compacts the track," Minns said.
"The times, when we've had the rain, have come from 20 seconds faster. It makes a real big difference."
Tomorrow's main race over 1666m is scheduled for 3.10pm.
That will follow the youth gift at 2.30pm and a new 300m sprint at 1.50pm.
Ipswich's national masters achiever Darrin Norwood is entered in the open and 300m races.
All participants have been provided with a handicap based on previous best times over a variety of distances.
The One Mile Gift is supported by the Ipswich Hospital Foundation, Queensland Athletics League, Queensland Athletics, Ipswich City Council, Ipswich Turf Club, Stockland and The Queensland Times.
Ipswich One Mile open field (with handicap in brackets) is: Glen Yarham (55m), Patrick Tierman (60m), Luke Eastwell (70m), Tim Seth (90m), Andrew Barralet (120m), Connor McNamara, Matt Hutchinson and Connor O'Leary (165m), Doug Amiss (180m), Clay Dawson (185m), Lenny Duroux and Thomas Bayliss (200m), Kate Van Homrigh and Tony Shaw (205m), Andrew Dey (235m), Darrin Norwood (270m), P J Reeves (300m), James McNamara (to be confirmed).
Ipswich Mile youth field: Blake Rogers (110m), Emily Beston (180m), Kailee Howard and Kirsty Johnson (200m), Kelly McNamara (290m), Shay Madison (330m), Thomas Cronin (360m).
Ipswich Mile open 300m field: Lenny Duroux (27m), Lachlan Inch (29m), Wayne Adams (35m), Richard Norris (42m), Steve Jones (43m), Darrin Norwood (48m), Kirsty Johnson (50m), Gary Warrener (70m).
Tomorrow's annual Ipswich One Mile Gift Raceday at the Ipswich Turf Club features three handicap foot races. In addition to the open and junior events on the sand track, a 300m race is planned. Competitors are vying for $6000 in prizemoney. The race times at Bundamba are: 1.50pm - 300m, 2.30pm - junior gift, 3.10pm - open gift.