Now in its 17th year, the Leonora Golden Gift has cemented itself as one of Australia’s greatest footraces. Some of the country’s finest runners descended on the small outback town for the mining community’s annual running carnival, sponsored by St Barbara Limited, Saracen Mineral Holdings and Gold Fields.
Held over the Western Australia long weekend of 31 May to 3 June, the 2019 Golden Gift included a wide variety of events and activities for the community and visitors, such as an art prize, horse racing and fashions on the field, kids races and a work boot sprint, a live concert from Australian singer Pete Murray, food and market stalls, fireworks and much more.
The festivities kicked off with a number of school visits, that saw a record number of students aged five to 18 participate in athletics clinics which also prepared them for the weekend’s races. The students participated in a wide array of activities, some of which required them to work together, such as sprint relays and vision-impaired guide racing practice.
Olympic coach Philo Saunders, Youth Olympic champion Keely Small, and Paralympians Michael Roeger and Jaryd Clifford joined the Leonora District High School clinic to guide the students through a training session and share their stories, drawing upon their own adversity battles to deliver their key life lessons to the students - believe in yourself and reach for your dreams.
The main attraction of the running carnival was the coveted road mile title and its $50,000 prize. Run down the main road of town, it always draws some of the most talented runners in the country and this year was no exception. The 2019 race included both the male and female national mile champions, four Commonwealth Games representatives, and two Paralympians.
Crowned champions and Commonwealth Games representatives Stewart McSweyn and Georgia Griffith won their respective races in front of a passionate crowd, with McSweyn’s time of 4:05 shattering the previous race record. Both athletes will go on to compete at the World University Games and the World Championships, taking every opportunity to hone their craft before the Olympic Games in 2020.
The Leonora Golden Gift remains a pivotal race for Australian runners, having already helped pave the way for twenty Olympians and countless other athletes to pursue their dreams. Plans are now underway for 2020, promising the event will continue to support the local community through running.