Running field the best this century
20 Dec, 2010
THE Basslink Christmas Carnivals Series will boast the best line-up of runners for more than 10 years, including national champions and Stawell Gift winners.
Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania elite athlete coordinator Rod Walker said while the contingent of mainland runners targeting the Coastal carnivals may not be as big as in recent years, it had plenty of depth.
The series started at Rosebery on Saturday, but the main interstate assault will start at Latrobe on Boxing Day, followed by Devonport next week and Burnie on New Year's Day.
"We haven't got the quantity of past years, but we've certainly got the quality," Walker said.
"And it's spread across the board with some excellent male and female sprinters as well as some very good middle distance runners," he said.
"It's certainly going to be an exciting series.
"One of the good things is that many of the athletes are coming for most of the series too, instead of just targeting one carnival or another as they have done in the past."
The line-up includes previous Stawell Gift winners Adrian Mott (Victoria) and Tom Burbidge (ACT), as well as Victorian Doug Greenbough, who finished third this year and Brendan Matthews, who has also been a two-time finalist.
South Australian trainer Paul Young is bringing a small, but strong stable, including reigning Burnie Gift winner Alicia Wrench-Doody and South Australian Athlete of the Year Lucy Buckley.
"Paul's only bringing six, but they're all quality runners," Walker said.
South Australian 100m champion Robbie James is also in the group along with Australian 800m champion James Boden.
Australian junior track team coach Mark Beckingham will also bring a strong line-up with him, including Australian 100m champion Lisa Green.
A number of interstate sprinters entered for the carnivals are also capable middle distance runners, ensuring some top class 400m running during the series, with the 400m Devonport Gift likely to have its best field for a number of years.
A highlight of the series will be an interstate relay at the Burnie Carnival, featuring teams from Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.
The 4x200m relay will feature three male runners and one female runner in what should be a popular event with the crowd.