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The Pitreavie Gift – In the beginning

As with so many of the world’s greatest ideas, the seeds of the Pitreavie Gift were planted over and after a beer, on this occasion in the George Hotel, Inveraray at the end of the annual Highland Games in 2005.

Handicapper and former sprinter Don Campbell and a few of the other current directors of the Gift had not long returned from a holiday in Australia which had as its central focus a trip to the renowned Stawell Gift in the state of Victoria. This carnival of athletics takes place over three days at Easter with the highlight being the final of the 120 metres Australia Post sponsored Stawell Gift, a limited handicap race, open to all and with a huge purse to the winner. This race is complemented by a full programme of races for men, ladies and veteran runners from distances of 70 metres up to 3200 metres.

So impressed were the travellers with the slick organisation of the meeting and the professional approach of the everyone linvolved – right down the to the timed start of each individual heat of each and every race – that a discussion took place about a similar type of event taking place in Scotland. The Stawell Gift was exported to Down Under from Scotland and it was common ground that it was time to repatriate some of the better aspects of that meeting to the homeland. Hence, the Pitreavie Gift. As with all new ideas, the seeds took a little while to germinate, but after over a year’s advance planning the decision as taken to run the inaugural Gift in January 2012, the same year as the Olympics are coming to London.  

The meeting is designed to complement the existing programme of events on the Scottish athletics calendar and is timed to fill a perceived gap in that calendar.  There were no outdoor meetings on the Borders or Highland Games circuits after September other than the New Year meeting. Athletes were still putting in the hours of training with no other means of outside competition as a payback for that effort. We are all too aware of the vagaries of the Scottish weather but it is hoped that the timing and quality of the Gift will be just right to meet the desired objectives. The location too was chosen carefully – good quality facilities in a central location easily accessible by road and rail with a history of athletics at its core.

The meeting is being run for athletes and with athletes in mind. Its success will depend upon athletes participating in the meeting. Input from athletes is vital too and the organisers are more than willing to receive such input and to act upon it where improvement will follow. A full range of distances is offered to the competitor and may well be added to in the years to come. We mean what we say – the runner always comes first at the Pitreavie Gift.

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Pitreavie Gift is the trading name of Gift Athletics, Company Number SC405401, Registered Office The Bungalow, High Street, Ceres, Fife, KY15 5NF